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Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19)

  • group of students in a meeting room physically distanced with 6 feet apart

Group Gatherings

Spread is a growing risk as communities ease closings and people seek to be together. Here's what you need to know about safety around other people and in groups. We'll continue to update this information as changes occur.

Bigger Group, Greater Risk

According to the Centers for Disease and Control (CDC), there are two key factors that increase your risk of becoming infected with COVID-19 or furthering the spread — how many people you interact with and the duration of your interactions. And if you're in a place where community transmission is high, your likelihood of exposure to COVID-19 is even greater.

What's a Gathering?

A gathering can range from a small number of people who spontaneously get-together to a large number of people attending a public event, concert, wedding or sports event.

Measuring Your Risk

The CDC offers the following guidelines to measure exposure risk when in common group settings or gatherings.

Lowest risk: Virtual-only activities, events and gatherings.

More risk: Smaller outdoor and in-person gatherings in which individuals from different households remain spaced at least 6 feet apart, wear cloth face coverings, do not share objects, and come from the same local area (e.g., community, town, city or county).

Higher risk: Medium-sized in-person gatherings that are adapted to allow individuals to remain spaced at least 6 feet apart and with attendees coming from outside the local area.

Highest risk: Large in-person gatherings where it is difficult for individuals to remain spaced at least 6 feet apart and attendees travel from outside the local area.



How COVID-19 Spreads in Groups

The virus that causes COVID-19 is believed to transmit primarily through the respiratory droplets released when talking, coughing or sneezing or by touching a contaminated surface and then touching your nose, mouth or eyes.

How to Lower Your Exposure Risk

  1. Do not attend a group gathering if you have tested positive for COVID-19 or have symptoms, or if you've been around anyone exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms within the past 14 days.
  2. Avoid standing in lines or queues at doorways or restooms without adhering to physical distancing.
  3. Wear a cloth face covering and especially in settings where physical distancing is difficult or where you will be exposed to singing or shouting.
  4. Practice physical distancing as much as possible.
  5. Avoid hand-to-hand contact such as handshakes, fist bumps and high-fives.
  6. When you cough or sneeze, cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or use your elbow.
  7. If hand washing is not available, use a hand sanitizer containing at least 60 percent alcohol.
  8. Avoid touching high-use surfaces such as door or sink handles, drinking fountains, railings, tables, counters and bars or sanitize or wash hands after touching.

Planning a Group Gathering

If you are planning a group gathering, be sure to follow the university's special event guidelines. There will be a risk at any event, so event organizers should be mindful of the risk and consider all factors before planning an event. If there is substantial risk, planners should conduct the event virtually or in a hybrid of in-person and virtual means.


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