SEAFORD, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — Fresh air. It’s a luxury these days.

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, we have been cooped up in homes and the weather hasn’t been ideal. But on a sunny day like Tuesday, everyone seemed to be out exercising. But in tight quarters, how safe was the fresh air?

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It’s not a request; it’s an order. If you can’t maintain a six-foot social distance, wear a mask. And yet, throngs of cyclists, joggers, and walkers were crowding onto Long Island’s green trails.

So, where were the masks?

“You want to take advantage of the outside, wonderful, but take precautions. If you’re not going to take precautions, stay in your damn house,” one person told CBS2’s Carolyn Gusoff.


Despite some of the highest coronavirus transmission rates in the nation, people were mostly seen not wearing masks.

“They think that recreational riding and recreational walking they don’t need protection,” one person said.

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Earlier this month, a study showed runners and brisk walkers could create a wake of air behind them that could carry respiratory droplets beyond six feet. The research didn’t look specifically at coronavirus, but when people exercise they breathe harder and potentially expel more droplets.

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CBS2 medical correspondent Dr. Max Gomez said there is no settled science yet about the outdoor spread of coronavirus, but added, “If you are in a crowded environment, a lot of people are biking, a lot of people are running around you, you might want to be a little more careful, and wear a mask.”

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The organization New York Road Runners is urging everyone outside exercising to cover their mouth and nose if they are unable to keep a socially safe distance from others.

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Martin Buchman, with the New York Bicycling Coalition, said trail etiquette is needed now more than ever. Put space between yourself and others.

“Walkers need to stay to the extreme right, no more than two abreast. Cyclists when you pass you need to give a good six feet breadth,” Buchman said.

“If you’re going to be around people, within six feet of people, you’ve got to wear a mask. That’s the rule for now until we get past the worst, because the last thing we want is for everything to clamp down,” Nassau County Executive Laura Curran said.

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The whole point of the mask directive is “I protect you, you protect me.” Yet somehow that message is not fully making it to the suburban great outdoors.