Jane Rosen started screaming sometime in April. In May, it became routine. Incidents often occur near her minivan, which she parks next to Central Park in New York City.
When she tries to get in or out of the vehicle, a cyclist or runner passes quickly, so close that she can smell them. "I scream: & # 39; Where's your mask? & # 39;" said Rosen, 73.
The daughter warned that these clashes could end badly. But it looks like it's worth it, she said, because lives are at risk. She had about 18 of those clashes. The number would be greater, she said, if she ventured out more often.
Melissa Mayen, a high school student in Washington, DC, was also avoiding leaving. Then, in mid-May, she left for the first time in almost a month.
She was startled when a man, crossing the street, shouted something over a mask. "I almost fell off the bike," she said. She owns a mask, which her father brought her from a construction site where he works. In addition to being so thick that she can hardly breathe, she tries to preserve it for situations of greater risk. "If you're yelling at someone to wear a mask, then give them a mask," she said.
And few activities seem to have sparked more debate than exercise: walkers, cyclists, runners, skaters – all seem to have contradictory interpretations of science and etiquette about how to behave outside.
First, let's get to the rules: runners need to wear masks, right?
Not necessarily. When cities and states started asking people to wear masks to reduce the transmission of coronavirus, some made exceptions to exercise. They carry a mask, many seemed to say, but if you're alone on an empty street, you don't need to wear it.
New York City explicitly declares that facial coverage is not necessary when walking, running or cycling, if you can keep your distance. Likewise, San Francisco asked runners carry a mask and put it on when they are around other people.
Since mid-May, Los Angeles has required residents to disguise themselves when they leave home. But masks are not necessary during running and cycling, as long as the distance is maintained – although they must be carried, the municipality and city clarified later.
In Boston, a high heart rate is no excuse for not covering your nose and mouth. "You need to wear a face cover when you're exercising," Mayor Marty Walsh said in April.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends using clothing covers in public places “where other measures of social detachment are difficult to maintain”, but do not offer specific guidance on exercise.
Why can't runners wear masks?
It can be very difficult to wear a mask.
Many runners are discouraged by the difficulty of inhaling as their heart rate increases. It can be much more difficult than wearing a mask.
"It is harder to breathe and it is much more humid," said Gaston Ly, store manager at the Running Room in Honolulu.
Others renounce one because, even with the spread of the virus, masks have not been widely adopted in their communities.
"Oh God, no!" said Larry Holt, owner of Ken Combs Running Store in Louisville, Kentucky, when asked if runners there wore masks. "This is the craziest thing I've ever heard in my life."
(In Kentucky, Governor Andy Beshear asked residents to start wearing masks in public on May 11. As authorities elsewhere, he made an exception for people who exercise alone.)
Even in Hong Kong, a city so committed to facing coverage in public that it has been widely praised as a model, there is little expectation that runners will wear masks, said Brian Woo, founder of a racing group. "I assume I just understand that running is not the time to wear masks," he said.
Still, there is evidence that runners and motorcyclists should wear masks, right?
There is no scientific consensus on the importance of wearing a mask during exercise, mainly because little relevant research has been completed.
The researchers agree that the masks slow the spread of the virus. They also agree that it is better to avoid exercising less than five feet from someone other than your immediate home and that working out is less risky outside than inside.
Donald Milton, professor of environmental health at the University of Maryland School of Public Health, who studied the mask's ability to block respiratory droplets, suggests that its value depends on location. "Outdoors is relatively safe, and masks would be important only if you exercise in busy areas or indoors, in spaces shared with others," he said.
How could a racer or motorcyclist infect me?
That would probably happen when you stopped talking to them, said Julian Tang, a virologist and professor at the University of Leicester in England. He thinks that the risk of infection for a person who passes quickly is low, because "the large volume of air will dilute any virus exhaled and the wind can take it away".
But if people who exercise are breathing harder, doesn't that make the mask more important?
In April, a draft of a study by Belgian and Dutch engineers, indicating that runners, fast walkers and cyclists create an air mat behind them that can carry expired respiratory droplets much more than a meter and a half began to circulate online. A widely shared Average post referring to the research, it is recommended to keep a distance of 10 meters when running or cycling slowly and at least 15 meters – four lengths of car – when cycling quickly.
For a few days, all the social media platforms seemed to be leaking with the same terrifying graphic: two runners, one spitting out a colored cloud – many interpreted it as coronavirus – on a man behind him.
The study authors will soon published a monitoring, noting that their research was just an engineering wind flow model, which found that when we walk or run, the air moves differently around us than when we are still. Despite telling people not to draw conclusions from their research on how the virus infects people, it has taken on a life of its own.
A helpful tip, both the study authors and several uninvolved researchers, said: It is best to avoid running or cycling directly behind someone for an extended period.
And the sweat?
Strange sweat is disgusting. But it is not among the body fluids that the CD warns transmits the coronavirus.
How about spitting?
Spitting is not only disgusting, but also dangerous, as saliva can contain viral droplets. Runners, cyclists, skaters, walkers – don't do that! (Or at least not around other people.)
I'm a cyclist or runner and I want to do this safely. What can I do?
Avoid popular routes and schedules, suggests Douglas Nicaragua, owner of Go Run in Miami. He advises wearing a mask, even if you don't expect to find someone. If you see someone, put them on.
"Over time, you'll get used to it," said Joey Ta, a competitive endurance athlete in Los Angeles who recently started wearing a mask.
People who exercise used various types of masks, some with disadvantages. A surgical mask can easily get wet and heavy with sweat; just like a cloth. A headband tied to the head can slip more easily when running. Some may even consider a facial shield.
And whether wearing a mask or not, pay attention to the position of the people around you. Benjamin D. Levine, professor of internal medicine at UT Southwestern Medical Center and Texas Health Presbyterian Dallas, is advising the US athletics team on how to train safely. He recommends that you focus on what he calls four Ds: "double the distance" from six to 12 feet and "don't lean", meaning "don't run or ride a bicycle directly behind someone, so you're continually breathing and exhaling . air."
Will a mask help me train?
No. The idea that wearing a mask mimics high altitude conditions is a myth, said Levine.
A biker without a mask came so close that I could smell him. Permission to scream?
"I don't understand how people fail to understand that this is more than just a mask," said Rosen, the New York woman who started shouting at runners.
She said her confrontations were motivated by a sense of duty to protect not only herself, but also her neighbors.
But you're screaming – which can also expel more viral droplets than talk – likely behavior change? Possibly, said Alexandra Brewis, a professor at the Arizona State University School of Human Evolution and Social Change and author of a book on stigma and global health. But she found that most people are much more likely to receive advice from friends and family than from a stranger and to incorporate feedback delivered with empathy, not shame.