by Dina Kupfer

SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — When can we expect life to return to normal? Some health experts say because of the coronavirus, daily activities may look different for more than a year.

A group of 511 infectious disease specialists was asked by the New York Times when they expect to resume daily activities without an effective COVID-19 vaccine or treatment first. Approximately 64% said they would wait more than a year to attend a sporting event, concert or play, and 43% said it would be more than a year before they would attend religious services.

“Every epidemic is local, so you really cannot make any generalizations based on time,” Jeffery Klausner, professor of medicine and public health at UCLA, said.

Klausner says risks associated with COVID-19 need to be looked at on a local level.

“In California, we have some counties with very, very few cases and in those counties, with few cases, you can go to large gatherings and the risk is going to be very, very low because the likelihood you’re going to come in contact with someone with infection is going to be very, very low,” Klausner said. 

The group from the study and Klausner agree that outdoor activities and small groups are safer than being indoors or in a crowd. But he maintains, for the general population, the risk of contracting the virus remains low.

“Right now we are learning that the actual risk for COVID is very low and on par with other risks that we see every day in our lives,” Klausner said. “We know that those who are at the greatest risk of getting infected are elderly people who are immune-compromised, people with chronic conditions and those are the people that need to take extra precautions.”

Fifty-two percent of those surveyed said it would take them more than a year to stop routinely wearing face coverings. Klauser agrees people should wear masks if you cannot maintain six-feet social distancing, but “as the risk in the community continues to drop, with the continued decline in number of cases out in the general community, masks over time are going to have less benefit to the individual,” he said. 

Klausner says it’s important for counties to put out data on recent outbreaks and current cases so people can be properly informed to engage in activities again, but in California, we are in better shape than other parts of the country.

“Hospitalizations are down, our deaths are down, and right now things are looking for favorable,” Klausner said. “People need to think about what their risks are for complications and maybe worry a little bit less about getting infected.”

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