Opinion: Being outdoors could help reduce COVID-19

coronavirus

To the Editor:

We got the hand-washing messaging down: Do it and do it for 20 seconds.

We got the social proximity rules knocked: Avoid.

But what about the obvious flip side: If avoiding large groups is potentially lifesaving, what are we doing indoors?

Faced with such momentous shifts in social norms as school closings nationwide, isn’t it worth asking: If social proximity is our foe, isn’t the outdoors our friend?

Shouldn’t we start a gardening program and get those kids outdoors?

But wait, Princeton has that. When I started writing 20 years ago about the consequences of screen-focused childhood, I had no idea I’d end up defending outdoor education as a national defense strategy. But with more space our friend and close social proximity our foe, can we please look for solutions outside in our gardens and on our trails?

Yes, sing Happy Birthday while washing your hands, and model good hygiene by keeping children a safe distance from large groups. Also, look outside where Mother Nature’s tender arms are wide open.

Outside we find harm-reduction solutions that reduce COVID-19 risk – with fresh air, large open spaces, and free playgrounds – all readily available, inexpensive and practical as part of a whole-herd solution.

Dorothy Mullen
Princeton