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Dr. Pate: Outdoor events may be safer but the delta variant of COVID-19 still poses a threat

Pate emphasized that the current wave of COVID-19 cases is far from what the Gem State has experienced thus far.

BOISE, Idaho — According to one of the Gem State's top medical experts, while outdoor events during the coronavirus pandemic may be safer than indoor events, but the delta variant can still spread outside.

Dr. David Pate, the recently retired CEO and president of St. Luke's Health System and a member of Idaho Governor Brad Little's coronavirus task force, explained that face masks should still be worn in crowded outdoor settings.

"So we do see people that do get infected at outdoor weddings and other events where people are close together without masks, but for normal things, if we were going to go for a bike ride or walk, those are not of concern. it's really a situation where we will be clustered together in very close proximity and without masks, you could still transfer it that way," Pate said.

He added that he is concerned about COVID-19 in outdoor settings, he has bigger worries like schools and indoor gatherings.

"I would not right now get into a crowd of people I don't know," Pate said, "I don't know if they're vaccinated, people that are not going to be wearing masks, and I would have to be in close proximity. I'm not doing that."

He said if he had to choose between in close proximity to people indoors or outdoors, he would pick outdoors.

"We should not conclude that just because you're outdoors you cant get infected. you can, but again, it's a matter of are you going to be really close to people that aren't vaccinated or you don't know," Pate said.

Pate emphasized that the current wave of COVID-19 cases is far from what the Gem State has experienced thus far. Last year, COVID-19 hit high-risk, older adults with health issues the most. Now, with a more contagious variant, the virus is infecting younger adults who typically don't have health issues and didn't worry about COVID-19 as much last year.

He added that kids are getting sick much more frequently and toddlers are spreading it efficiently.

"All of us we want to get back to normal, we want to go to the fair, we want to go to sporting events, we want to go to school, we want to go to concerts and we don't want to wear mask, but if we want to do that we have to get a lot of people vaccinated, so please get vaccinated," Pate said. "That's our ticket out of this."

At KTVB, we’re focusing our news coverage on the facts and not the fear around the virus. To see our full coverage, visit our coronavirus section, here: www.ktvb.com/coronavirus.

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