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The dos and don’ts of social distancing at a busy park during coronavirus pandemic

Yes, it still is ok to go to the park, but be mindful of social distancing

MEMPHIS, Tennessee —

After Thursday’ nice weather in Memphis, a whole bunch of new questions are coming up about social distancing during the coronavirus pandemic. People were understandably anxious to get out, and Shelby Farms Park was packed.

We posted some pictures earlier today on Facebook, and the comments started pouring in. Some folks saying their understanding of "shelter at home" is exactly that, and people need to stay inside.

So I emailed the video you're about to see to one of our infectious disease specialists, Dr. Hiren Pokharna, as we separate facts from fear.

First of all, Dr. Pokharna says going to the park is fine, even healthy for us after being so cooped up. But just like when you go to the grocery store, you need to be smart. Walking in a park with the same family or friends you already live with at home, it's ok if you come within 6 feet of each other.

But say you’re walking one direction and a  stranger's coming toward you and you pass each other within the six foot rule? Dr. Pokharna says if everyone minds their own business, it's  very unlikely you'd be infected because there's also a ten minute rule.

You can be within six feet of someone who's infected for up to ten minutes before you're at risk from the virus's water particles.

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So the folks sitting on these lounge chairs are probably fine, as long as no one sneezes or coughs. What worries Dr. Pokharna more than anything about what he saw in the video we shot is contact surfaces. What if someone on that lounge chair is infected, gets up to go home, and someone unsuspecting touches the same surface? Does that man own the canoe he's in? If not, he should have probably wiped it down or not gotten in at all.

What if you touch a surface like a restroom door knob? You have to be able to sanitize right after you touch a surface or sanitize the surface before you touch it. So Dr. Pokharna told me it's a good thing the playground is closed.