What's The Risk Of Catching COVID-19 If Someone Runs By Me And Coughs?

In our series "What's the Risk?" experts weigh in on what risks different scenarios pose for transmitting COVID-19.
Posted at 12:48 PM, Apr 20, 2020

When it comes to getting sick with COVID-19, you might be thinking about this, and we have too. Jason Siebold asks: 

"I like to run outside. What is the risk of me getting COVID-19 if someone runs by me and coughs?"

Newsy asked the experts: Jason Farley, professor of nursing, infectious disease-trained nurse epidemiologist and nurse practitioner in the Division of Infectious Diseases at the Johns Hopkins Schools of Nursing and Medicine; Katie Cary, vice president of infection prevention, HCA Continental Division; and Dr. Mary Schmidt, president of Schmidt and Libby Health Advisory Group, board-certified infectious diseases doctor, associate professor at Virginia Commonwealth University and clinical faculty at the Northern Virginia Inova. 

Their take — contracting COVID-19 from someone running by and coughing is medium risk. 

"If they were running by you, I would say it definitely lowers it because you have the air currents and everything else involved with somebody just passing by you very briefly," Cary said.

"If you're going to be out walking or running in an area where you're going to see other people and they're not going to be at least 20 feet from you, I would wear some kind of a protective device. To be quite honest, if they have a cough, shame on them for being out there," Schmidt said. 

"If you're running or if you're biking, lots of things kind of influence. Whether or not you might get infected first and foremost is what the wind speed is. Is it really sunny outside? The sun, the UV rays from the sun kill coronavirus. But it all is going to depend on how much exposure the virus gets to the sun before it actually gets inhaled by you or it hits your mucous membranes," Farley said.

 If you have a question about your risk, email a video question to