Find out the worst places to visit during the coronavirus outbreak
Lockdowns, mandates, closures, travel restrictions, social distancing, rising death counts – the COVID-19 outbreak turned the world upside down. With the pandemic’s wide reach and high infection rate, it can feel like nowhere is safe.
However, COVID-19 isn’t clouding the air supply everywhere you go. In fact, the majority of COVID-19 contagion takes place in the same types of locations. So, you can go ahead and take off your mask when you’re alone in your car or walking in a secluded park – the coronavirus won’t use a search location to hunt you down as soon as you leave your house.
The virus could, on the other hand, be waiting for you if you visit certain locations known to be dangerous COVID breeding grounds. A mask may not help you much if you walk right into infectious hotspots. Here are the most treacherous places to go during this never-ending coronavirus outbreak.
Looking at the studies
According to the New York Post, most COVID-19 cases in U.S. cities spread after visiting just a few different types of places. Research published by the journal Nature reported that, “Restaurants, gyms, hotels, and houses of worship are among the 10 percent of locations that would appear to account for 80 percent of the infections.”
What do these places have in common? “These are places that are smaller, more crowded, and people dwell there longer,” explained Stanford University Professor Jure Leskovec to CNN. “There are about 10% of points-of-interest that account for over 80 % of all infections,’’ he affirmed.
Leskovec’s study pulled together researchers from Northwestern University & Stanford to analyze cell phone data from 98 million Americans in ten major cities, including New York, Philadelphia, Washington, DC, Los Angeles, Chicago, and Houston. From this data researchers were able to track people’s movements & locations while watching the coronavirus counts in their areas.
“On average across metro areas, full-service restaurants, gyms, hotels, cafes, religious organizations, and limited-service restaurants produced the largest predicted increases in infections when reopened,” the study found. These businesses and public facilities should cause serious caution – especially if they gather large groups of people together.
Worshippers congregating under one roof are putting their community at risk for a local coronavirus outbreak. With speaking, shouting, singing, and shaking hands, churches are a COVID petri dish. According to The New York Times, over 650 cases have been traced back to nearly forty churches & religious events in the United States alone.
CDC regulations warn the public not to attend events which gather over ten people together. Logically, the more people who you can come into contact with, the higher the risk is that you could contract the virus. Churches, in particular, welcome large numbers of people into their facilities usually with little adherence to social distancing.
According to Healthline, public health expert Carol Winter urged people to, “Reduce your risk by being selective in your choice of venues.” Similar to churches, concerts and theaters put many people together in the same room. “Try to research things like how many people will be allowed into the theater per showing? Is my church spreading attendees out by pews?” she suggested.
Oftentimes restaurants plant you in poorly ventilated areas that seat you close to other people around you. Contact with servers as well as touching items like menus and dishes puts you at risk – especially when you remove your mask or use your hands to eat.
Both Dr. Fauci & the CDC have warned people against eating out at restaurants & cafes. A recent study conducted by CDC found that on-site eating & drinking options were often associated with COVID-19 positivity. India Times claimed that those who tested positive COVID-19 were about twice as likely to have dined at a restaurant than those tested negative.
Anywhere indoors where people are sloppy, loud, and crowded together is clearly a risky place to be during a pandemic. Considering COVID-19 generally spreads from tiny respiratory droplets of an infected person, a bar where people talk & drink seems like an obvious spot for viruses to spread.
“Public health authorities have identified bars as the locus of outbreaks in Louisiana, Florida, Wyoming and Idaho,” Kaiser Health News reported.
“The most common example [of a risky environment] would be a crowded bar with people having to speak loudly because of the noise and either unmasking or frequently removing the mask to eat or drink,” said Dr. Jeff Pothof, chief quality officer of UW Health.
Feeling cooped up from quarantine might make you feel like hitting the gym to get in your dose of healthy exercise. This choice, however, is the wrong move for your health considering it a prime spot to spread COVID-19. Breathing heavily right next to a fellow fitness enthusiast? Hopping on a germy treadmill? No, thank you.
A CDC study discovered these types of workout situations are riskier than others when it comes to viral transmission. Virus outbreaks from gyms have been reported, including a recent one in California.
Some fitness centers have implemented guidelines to reduce contagion (such as sanitizing equipment & social distancing), but no matter what it’s always a risk to be in a room next to lots of other people. (Just watch an exercise tape or go outside for your exercise, will you?)
Obviously steering clear of these places could protect you from the coronavirus, but there are other solutions as well. “Reducing the establishments’ capacity to 20 percent, as opposed to shutting them down entirely, could curb transmissions by 80 percent,” Leskovec explained. “Our work highlights that it doesn’t have to be all or nothing.”
Choosing outdoor options for your excursions is also a smart move (even though it’s getting colder in many places right now.) It’s also important to stick to the COVID-19 prevention regime by wearing masks, washing your hands, and staying healthy. (Despite what you might think, just wearing a mask will not magically protect you.)