How to get together safely now that gatherings of 10 people or less are permitted

Gov. Whitmer has loosened coronavirus restrictions

DETROIT – Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced that gatherings of 10 people or less are now permitted -- and it’s a welcome change for many.

After weeks of staying at home, many people are wondering how to gather safely. There are steps you can take to minimize the risk of spreading coronavirus (COVID-19).

May 21, 2020 -- Michigan coronavirus (COVID-19) cases up to 53,510; Death toll now at 5,129

Ryan Malosh is a research scientist at the University of Michigan of Public Health and is an expert in calculating risk.

“In November of 2018 I was diagnosed with leukemia,” Malosh said. “In March of last year my brother donated stem cells and I received a bone marrow transplant ... Everything that we do is going to add a little bit of risk to our lives and to the lives of the people around us.”

READ: Michigan Gov. Whitmer partially reopens businesses, lifts medical restrictions statewide

Malosh said there are ways we can minimize risk. For example, when it comes to a small gathering.

There is less risk if you gather outside, make sure nobody is sick and stay as far apart from each other as you can. A minimum of six feet. Keep hand sanitizer nearby and consider having each household bring their own food and drinks.

MORE: Here’s what Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer is reopening in the state this week, and where

“Sharing things is not going to be something that you’re going to want to do,” Malosh said. “The safest thing to do would be to prepare your own food -- bring your own food.”

Wearing masks, frequent hand washing and disinfecting surfaces are all still important for reducing risk. The more steps you take, the lower your risk.

“Those things are all good things to think about but none of them are going to be perfect on their own,” Malosh said. “So, if we can sort of stack those things on top of each other we can make hopefully make a meaningful reduction in our risk.”

As for whether it’s safe to visit higher risk people yet, “I think there’s not a really satisfying answers for that, unfortunately, because I think the safest thing to do is to find other ways to connect with people in our lives who might be high risk still.”

Cases are expected to go up as the state reopens. There’s a two week delay between when we make a change and when we see that reflected in case numbers.

That’s related to how the coronavirus spreads and how long it takes to become sick. A change in deaths we wouldn’t expect to see for at least another two weeks.

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