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The 9 Places You're Most Likely to Catch COVID

“The risk is quite variable depending on whether people mask,” says one expert.
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The best way to avoid catching COVID-19 is by social distancing, self-isolating, and wearing protective gear when you do have to go outside, according to the CDC. However, with more and more businesses re-opening, more people are going out—which has naturally led to a spike in COVID cases. Here are the nine places where people are most likely to catch COVID-19—and to keep yourself and others safe during this pandemic no matter where you go, don't miss this essential list of the Sure Signs You've Already Had Coronavirus.

1

You Could Catch COVID at Beaches

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The beaches in most states are open for the summer. However, that doesn't mean you should enjoy them. While it might sound easy to social distance at an open area, like a beach, it isn't. "Beaches can go from quiet to bustling before you know it," says Dr. Kiersten Kennedy, chief of hospital medicine at the University of Alabama at Birmingham Hospital. Also, many people do not wear their masks while they are in the water, or eating and drinking. "If you find that you are unable to wear your mask, and/or you are unable to maintain your distance from others, it's time to go," Dr. Kennedy tells Healthline.

2

You Could Catch COVID on Public Transportation

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While public transportation is an essential service in most states, it is still a high-risk area for exposure. When taking public transportation, it is difficult to physically distance. It also forces people to stay together for a long period of time. 

3

You Could Catch COVID at Bars

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There's a reason most restaurants still are not opening their bars. Bars not only encourage close seating, but loud talking, and they often have poor ventilation systems. "In general places where people congregate in large groups and do not socially distance and perform an activity wear one cannot wear a mask (such as drink or eat) are highest risk," says Dr. Thomas Murray, an infectious disease specialist at Yale New Haven Hospital.

4

You Could Catch COVID at Hair and Nail Salons

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Hair and nail salons have recently become hotspots for COVID. These businesses not only force people to be close to one another for a period of time, they also have a lot of touchable surfaces. However, that doesn't mean you still can't get a manicure or a haircut. "I would advise picking places to visit based on individual environmental set up vs. type of establishment. I would wear a mask and only frequent establishments that have mask policies," Alexander Benson, a critical care physician at Centura Health in Colorado who leads that facility's COVID-19 operation team, told Healthline. "If you have a particular place you're wanting to return to, ask them about the HVAC and cleaning policies."

5

You Could Catch COVID at Churches

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Churches have just started having in-person masses; however, they are still hotspots for COVID. In California, governor Gavin Newsom, recently was called for a stop of church assemblies. This was passed after a Mother's Day in-person service led all attendants to be exposed, after a person who tested positive went. 

6

You Could Catch COVID at Gyms & Fitness Centers

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Gyms and fitness centers have been open for a while in certain states, but they are risky places for transmission. A study done by Alexandro Andrade, Fabio Hech Domeski, Marcelo Luiz Pereira, Carla Maria de Liz, and Giorgio Buonanno, states that airborne illnesses are likely to spread in places that require a lot of breathing from occupants. Obviously, exercising in a gym requires a lot of heavy breathing. Gyms also have multiple contamination touch points, and have close quarters.

7

You Could Catch COVID at Nursing Homes

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Since the COVID pandemic started, the most at risk age group are middle-aged and senior citizens. In the U.S., 11% of COVID cases were all from nursing homes and other long-term care facilities. Currently, all nursing home staff are required to follow advanced hygiene protocols. All nursing homes are closed to outside visitors. According to Dr. Boris Lushniak, the dean of the University of Maryland School of Public Health, these protocols might become permanent. "Physical distancing, mask wear, and frequent handwashing need to become part of our culture for the near future," Dr. Lushniak told Reader's Digest.

8

You Could Catch COVID at Buffets/Indoor Dining

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Most restaurants are exclusively doing outdoor dining, with some providing limited socially distant indoor dining. But don't flock to your favorite establishment anytime soon. Especially if you want to enjoy a buffet. Buffets force people to stand in line, and touch all the same surfaces. Purdue University professor Dr. Quinyan Chen cites the air conditioning in indoor restaurants as another factor. "Restaurants are one of the most dangerous places because they use mixing ventilation, in which air conditioning systems try to stir room air as much as possible," Chen says. "Droplets in restaurants would be uniformly distributed."

9

You Could Catch COVID Going to a Sports Stadium or Large Concert

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A team of doctors from the Texas Medical Association ranked nearly every activity—from opening your mail to going to a bar—by their risk level. Going to a sports stadium or large concert were ranked the riskiest activities, along with going to a bar and a house of worship with more than 500 worshippers.

10

How to Avoid COVID-19

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While these places are all high-risk areas for COVID, the best way to avoid COVID is by wearing protection in public, social distancing and avoiding crowds. Dr. Murray says that any of these places can become low-risk spots as long as people take precautions. "The risk is quite variable depending on whether people mask," he says. "It is as much about behavior as it is about location." To that end, to get through this pandemic at your healthiest, don't miss these 37 Places You're Most Likely to Catch Coronavirus.

Anna Bechtel
Anna Bechtel is a freelance writer currently based in Hamden, CT. Read more
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