(CNN)Imagine taking a walk in your neighborhood, carefully staying 6 feet apart from others to ensure social distancing.
You see an elderly man collapse on the sidewalk, having a heart attack.
Everything you've heard of late tells you to avoid close contact with strangers, especially the elderly, during the pandemic.
Is it safe to perform CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) to try to save his life? Or are you risking being infected with the novel coronavirus or giving it to a dying man?
There's an answer: It's strongly encouraged that people perform CPR or chest compressions on others during the global pandemic, according to a report published by a group of Seattle emergency room physicians in the journal Circulation.
In fact, you may actually be hundreds of times more likely to save the dying man's life than you yourself are to die from Covid-19 by coming to his aid.
Rescue breaths in a pandemic
Here's how the math works.
From January 1 through April 15, emergency medical services in King County, Washington (which includes Seattle) responded to 1,067 cases of cardiac arrests occurring outside of a hospital setting. Once those patients made it to the hospital, less than 10% of them were diagnosed with Covid-19.
From there, the researchers also made their CPR safety calculation by cross-referencing a would-be rescuer's own risk of ultimately dying from their own act of compassion.
"Given a 1% mortality for Covid-19, approximately 1 rescuer might die in 10,000 bystander CPR events," the researchers wrote. "By comparison, bystander CPR saves more than 300 additional lives among 10,000 patients with (out-of-hospital cardiac arrest)."
Their advice: Don't let risk of infection scare you off from potentially handing someone else a second chance at life.