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You're Most Likely to Catch Coronavirus Here During Reopening

Proceed with caution.
Woman Sitting Church

Lockdowns are ending as states reopen—but don't let your guard down against COVID-19. On the contrary, keep it up. "The vast majority of Americans still have not been exposed to this virus," said Dr. Jay Butler, the CDC's deputy director of infectious diseases and COVID-19. "The more people an individual interacts with at a gathering and the longer that interaction lasts, the higher the potential risk of becoming infected with COVID-19 and COVID-19 spreading," says his agency.

Here are the 10 most high-risk places where you could contract coronavirus; avoid them if you can.

1

Bars and Restaurants

Friends drinking coktail in a restaurant bar outside in summer days with face mask on to be protected from coronavirus
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"In addition to the close quarters and need to remove masks to drink and/or eat, people have to talk loudly or shout to be heard over the crowd," says Dr. Lili Barsky. "This can increase the amount of air and thus, if infected, viral particles expelled."

2

Concerts

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It is unclear when the current status of the world will allow artists to perform concerts again. Whenever that will be, there are definitely risks involved. According to Dr. Barsky, there are "similar concerns of very close proximity and the need to vocalize loudly, which increases expulsion of the virus."

3

Pools

Medical mask on the blue pool background
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"The risk of infection becomes higher with overcrowding due to diminished capacity for social distancing," says Dr. Barsky. "Also, individuals may remove their masks to eat, drink, go underwater … and touch their face!"

4

Sport Venues

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"The high number of people in these places increases the exposure risk to the infected droplets," says Dr. Sanul Corrielus. "People are constantly moving and spreading the droplets within a contained space. Eventually, the venue becomes saturated with the droplets which in turn increases the exposure and likelihood of contracting the virus."

5

Gyms

Fitness girl lifting dumbbell in the morning.
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You might be ready to lose your quarantine body as soon as possible, but there are some risks involved. "People are moving in a close space from one part to the next or one equipment to the next, leading to the spread of the droplets which lead to higher exposure factor and higher risk of contracting the virus," says Dr. Corrielus. 

6

Churches

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Churches often have an older demographic of people going to masses, and they happen to be a high-risk group. Furthermore, there is a proximity issue, and masses would have to occur at a smaller capacity. Certain functions of mass would also have to be re-worked, such as Communion and the Sign of Peace. An outbreak just this weekend at a West Virginia church bears this out.

7

Beauty Salons

Professional manicure master in Transparent Safety Face Shield using Electric Nail Polisher Tool for Glazing treatment manicure procedure
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It's pretty much a requirement for hair salons and eyebrow places to have up close and personal service. Masks might be impractical when it comes to wax/thread anywhere on your face. They can also get in the way of trying to get a haircut. 

8

Public Transportation

New York City subway car interior with colorful seats
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"If someone is infectious and is coughing and sneezing, and you don't have ventilation, the concentration of that can build up over time," Joseph Gardner Allen, an assistant professor of exposure assessment science at Harvard University, told the New York Times. "So you want to bring in more air to dilute that." Said the paper: "The keys to mitigating the risk will be to reduce crowding, increase ventilation, expand disinfection regimens and ensure mask usage among riders. But achieving these goals will require a coordinated effort among transit and city officials, businesses and riders."

9

Large Outdoor Gatherings

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Festivals like Coachella and Lollapalooza have been canceled for a reason—all those people mean all those droplets. The CDC says there could be risk at "large in-person gatherings where it is difficult for individuals to remain spaced at least 6 feet apart and attendees travel from outside the local area." 

10

Your Workplace (Possibly)

Two people in office passing documents with keeping a distance
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The CDC is recommending workplaces:

  • Conduct daily health checks
  • Conduct a hazard assessment of the workplace
  • Encourage employees to wear cloth face coverings in the workplace, if appropriate
  • Implement policies and practices for social distancing in the workplace
  • Improve the building ventilation system

If your workplace isn't taking these precautions, bring it up with your manager.

11

What Else to Keep in Mind

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"The overall formula is to avoid places with a high exposure factor defined as the number of droplets in a defined space," says Dr. Corrielus. "The higher number of people in a smaller space leads to a high exposure factor. Conversely, the smaller number of people in a larger space leads to a lower exposure factor." Furthermore, be sure to wash your hands and wear a mask, to protect yourself and others. And to stay safe in your city, don't miss these Things You Should Never Do During the Coronavirus Pandemic.

Eat This, Not That! is constantly monitoring the latest food news as it relates to COVID-19 in order to keep you healthy, safe, and informed (and answer your most urgent questions). Here are the precautions you should be taking at the grocery store, the foods you should have on hand, the meal delivery services and restaurant chains offering takeout you need to know about, and ways you can help support those in need. We will continue to update these as new information develops. Click here for all of our COVID-19 coverage, and sign up for our newsletter to stay up-to-date.
Emilia Paluszek
Emilia specializes in human biology and psychology at the University at Albany. Read more
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