How Can We Navigate Daily Life During the Pandemic?

Epidemiologist Dr. Ellie Murray answers all of your COVID questions

By Molly Gluck and Sari Cohen

Image source: @veradavidovaphotography from Unsplash

In the past year, coronavirus has impacted everyone — drastically transforming our daily lives, routines, and social interactions. Dr. Ellie Murray, assistant professor of epidemiology at Boston University School of Public Health, researches how to make good evidence-based decisions to reduce disease and improve health in human populations. In recent months, she has zeroed in on understanding the spread of COVID-19 and has established herself as a go-to source for safely navigating daily life during the pandemic. She developed a spectrum of risk and harm reduction tips for every setting in an effort to help people choose low-risk activities that are sustainable in the long-term.

Dr. Murray recently took to Reddit to help people evaluate the risks of different activities and to share the most important precautions to take to prevent the spread of coronavirus. From traveling, to seeing friends and family, to medical appointments and more, the top ten takeaways from her discussion offer resources, tips, and helpful information to stay safe during this time.

1) The goal is to be able to do the things in life that are most important to you, while being as safe as possible.

Murray makes the case for wearing masks and social distancing.

2) Look for masks with multiple layers.

Murray shares tips for finding the best reusable mask.

3) Give your mask some sun.

Every extra minute in the sunshine reduces the chances there’s any virus on your mask.

4) Coping with cabin fever? You’re not alone.

Day trips can be a great escape — and if you need more time away, hotels seem to be taking transmission seriously.

5) The risks of road-tripping and staying in a hotel vs. flying seem similar.

Choose the option that makes you feel more comfortable.

Image source: @camilapp from Unsplash

6) It is important to continue with medical care, even though it is a higher risk activity.

Murray suggests calling your doctor ahead of your appointment to ask what precautions they are taking.

…and dental visits are essential medical care.

Murray encourages people to still go to the dentist — and shares tips to make the visit as safe as possible.

7) It is possible to feel more comfortable about reopening schools.

Murray weighs in on homeschooling, highlights ways to make reopening schools safer in all communities, and shares advice for in-person teaching.

8) The purpose of asymptomatic testing is to interrupt transmission chains.

Murray makes the case for asymptomatic testing.

9) When it comes to exercise, distance is as good or better than masking.

Space out as much as possible.

10) How to (safely) go home for the holidays.

Airports seem to be reasonably low risk — and Murray recommends booking an early flight to minimize lines and interactions on the way to your destination.


Help pass the time with Murray’s favorite movie series.

For additional commentary by Boston University experts, follow us on Twitter at @BUexperts. Follow Ellie Murray at @epiellie and follow the Boston University School of Public Health at @BUSPH.

Cutting-edge research and commentary out of Boston University, home to Nobel laureates, Pulitzer winners and Guggenheim Scholars. Find an expert:

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