You're Most Likely to Catch COVID-19 Indoors Here, Alarming Doctors
Hundreds of top health experts revealed this week that COVID-19 is an airborne virus—which means it is a lot more dangerous than previously thought. "There have been reported outbreaks of COVID-19 reported in some closed settings," the WHO said in new guidance issued Thursday, referencing the evidence presented in a published open letter to the international health organization, signed by over 200 experts. They added that many of the places or situations where the virus had the potential to spread in an airborne manner involved enclosed spaces where people were likely to be "shouting, talking, or singing."
"In these outbreaks, aerosol transmission, particularly in these indoor locations where there are crowded and inadequately ventilated spaces where infected persons spend long periods of time with others, cannot be ruled out," the WHO confessed, listing these four of the places where it would be most likely to happen.
Early on in the pandemic, it became clear that restaurants had the potential for coronavirus outbreaks. In April the CDC published a report of 10 people from 3 families contacting the virus who ate at the same air-conditioned restaurant in Guangzhou, China. In recent months, a number of outbreaks linked to dining establishments have been reported in the United States.
Bars and nightclubs have been coronavirus hotspots in the United States. "Congregation at a bar inside is bad news," Dr. Anthony Fauci, Director of NIAID and one of the leading forces on the Coronavirus Task Force, recently stated during a press conference. "We really got to stop that. Right now." One single party place, Harper's Restaurant and Brewpub, in East Lansing, Michigan, has been tied to 170 cases. Other large outbreaks tied to bars have occurred in Austin and Houston, Texas, Boise, Idaho, and Jacksonville and St. Petersburg, Florida.
Places of Worship
Religious settings where people are talking, singing, hugging, and handshaking are the perfect places for an airborne virus to spread. Over the last few months a number of large coronavirus outbreaks have been tied to places of worship.
"Larger gatherings (for example, more than 250 people) offer more opportunities for person-to-person contact and therefore pose greater risk of COVID-19 transmission," explains the CDC, who has formally issued guidance for community and faith-based gatherings. For example, one small church in Oregon, Lighthouse Pentecostal Church in Union County, was linked to one of the state's largest coronavirus outbreaks, with over 236 cases.
Places of Work
If you work in any confined, indoor space with other people, you are more at risk of an airborne infection. Many of the outbreaks that have taken place at bars and restaurants have involved employees, likely congregating behind-the-scene in the kitchen. Also, meat plants and other types of factories have been the source of large community outbreaks. Any other space—including your office—where people are talking, laughing, singing, sneezing, or coughing and people tend to linger for periods of time are also concerning when it comes to an airborne virus.
How to Stay Healthy
"When it comes to prevention of COVID-19 disease, we know that a few key behaviors work: social distancing, wearing cloth facial coverings, isolating when ill, and tracing and isolating contacts of people who are infected," says Dr. Jaimie Meyer, MD, a Yale Medicine infectious disease specialist and associate professor at Yale School of Medicine, who offers more guidance in I'm a Doctor and Here's How to Never Catch COVID-19 Indoors.
So avoid indoor spaces, avoid crowds, wear your face mask, social distance, wash your hands frequently, monitor your health, and to get through this pandemic at your healthiest, don't miss these Things You Should Never Do During the Coronavirus Pandemic.