Dr. Fauci's Places You're Most Likely to Catch Coronavirus
Over the last 11 months, health experts have been paying close attention to the type of places that COVID-19 seems to thrive. During a Thursday interview at a University of Virginia School of Medicine virtual event, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's leading infectious disease expert and the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, revealed the places you should avoid if you want to protect yourself from becoming infected with the potentially deadly virus, or help prevent the spread to others. Read on to hear more, and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had Coronavirus.
Before We Get to the Places…Here's Why COVID Spreads in Certain Environments
Fauci pointed out that 40 to 45% of infected people are asymptomatic, and that "a substantial proportion of transmissions occur from an asymptomatic person to an uninfected individual." COVID is a "respiratory borne virus transmitted by the classic respiratory droplets, which tend to drop to the ground within a few feet," Fauci explained. "Hence the six-foot distance."
However, he pointed out that "recently it has been clear that a certain proportion of the transmissions do occur for what we refer to as aerosol, namely particles containing virus that are light enough that they stay suspended over time and through various distances for various periods of time." Additionally, it can be found on contaminated surfaces and in "multiple body fluids," but the role in transmission is unclear and likely insignificant for both.
The risk of transmission "varies by the type and the duration of exposure, as the viral load in the upper respiratory tract," he added. "Transmissions are common among household contacts and in congregate settings."
Outbreaks are likely in "healthcare settings where PPE is not used," per Fauci. He noted that "If healthcare workers have adequate and appropriate PPE" they are offered "reasonably good protection."
Fauci noted that "we've seen outbreaks in closed settings," naming cruise ships as a culprit. In May the CDC published a report linking 800 COVID-19 cases — and multiple deaths — to just three vessels.
Fauci also noted that nursing homes are prone to mass infections. Not only are people in nursing homes higher risk due to health issues and age, but they are often crowded and have poor ventilation.
Like cruise ships and nursing home, prisons have experienced massive COVID outbreaks due to the high number of prisoners in close quarters paired with poor ventilation and the comings and goings of staff.
Indoor Singing Scenarios
"Interestingly, it isn't only coughing and sneezing, but it's singing, speaking loudly or breathing heavily," Dr. Fauci pointed out. "This is a typical example that is well known of an outbreak during choir practice in Scott County, state of Washington last March, where a single symptomatic person infected 87% of the group who were practicing their choir songs in an indoor space."
Fauci also noted that bars, where people aren't likely to wear masks or socially distance, are also problem spots for transmission.
Over the last few months, there has been a lot of community transmission at family gatherings, explained Dr. Fauci. "Today in mid to late November, we're finding that innocent occurrences, such as groups of friends and family meeting indoors because of the cold weather for dinner are becoming a major source of asymptomatic spread to the group in the dinner party or in the social event," he explained. He added that these types of gatherings "seems to be driving infections much more so now than the more obvious settings of bars and other places."
Similar to bars, restaurants are dangerous spots for the virus. Fauci pointed to recently published CDC data listing bars as the riskiest place for infection.
Gyms, where multiple people are gathering for exercise, are also risky spots for virus transmission per Fauci and the CDC.
"Church events where people crowd together without masks" are a no-go in Dr. Fauci's book, due to the fact that they usually occur in "indoor situations."
Fauci noted multiple reasons why holiday gatherings are risky. He explained that Thanksgiving is a concern. "As people travel and friends and family gather together — particularly given the percentage of asymptomatic spread — is the thing that is a cause of concern." He added that "families need to make an individual decision based on those in the family that might be vulnerable, such as elderly and those with underlying conditions."
How to Survive the Pandemic—and Stop Infections From Spreading
No matter where you live, do everything you can to prevent getting—and spreading—COVID-19 in the first place: Wear your face mask, get tested if you think you have coronavirus, avoid crowds (and bars, and house parties), practice social distancing, only run essential errands, wash your hands regularly, disinfect frequently touched surfaces, stay outdoors more than indoors, and to get through this pandemic at your healthiest, don't miss these 35 Places You're Most Likely to Catch COVID.