Hugging during a pandemic: 10 do's and don'ts

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The risk of COVID-19 exposure from a brief hug is low, but there are still strategies Americans can use to protect themselves when embracing loved ones, scientists told The New York Times.

Even if you hugged a person who didn't know they had COVID-19 and even if that person coughed, research shows the risk of exposure is still surprisingly low, according to Linsey Marr, PhD, an aerosol scientist at Blacksburg-based Virginia Tech and leading expert in airborne disease transmission. 

That being said, avoiding hugs is always the safest course of action, as there is large variability in how much virus each person may shed. But if you do need a hug during the pandemic, there are precautions you can take.

Dr. Marr and other scientists shared the following tips on hugging with NYT:

Don't:

  • Hug face-to-face or with your heads facing the same directions 
  • Cry (this helps limit the risk of contact with bodily fluids that may contain the virus)
  • Talk or cough when hugging
  • Touch the other person’s body or clothes with your face or mask
  • Hug someone who is displaying respiratory symptoms 

Do:

  • Wear a mask
  • Turn your heads in opposite directions
  • Hug outside
  • Embrace briefly and then quickly back away
  • Wash your hands after

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