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Your Kitchen May Be a Hotspot for COVID If You Have This, Studies Suggest

Public places are risky, but so is your home if someone in your house has tested positive.
woman at kitchen home unpacks packing safely dinner

Right now, public places like restaurants, grocery stores, and other indoor facilities are enforcing strict safety rules to help stop the spread of COVID-19. But recent studies are showing that your own home—including your kitchen and other commonly shared rooms—can be just as susceptible to the same health risks if someone in your household has been infected with the virus.

A brand new analysis published Monday in the journal JAMA Network Open looked at 54 studies with over 77,000 total participants and found that "given that individuals with suspected or confirmed infections are being referred to isolate at home, households will continue to be a significant venue for transmission of SARS-CoV-2." (Related: The One Vitamin Doctors Are Urging Everyone to Take Right Now.)

As CNN reports, "Risk was higher if the family member showed symptoms of Covid-19—such as cough, sneezing, body aches, chills and fever—than if the person showed few or no signs of the virus, the study found. Risk was also higher between adults than between adults and children."

In other words, if someone in your home is symptomatic (or not!) and in the kitchen or other common areas without a mask on and socially distancing, your risk of catching COVID can go up significantly.

So, what are some ways to stay safe in your own home? First, if someone you're living with believes they have been exposed to COVID or have tested positive, they should quarantine away from others. The CDC website recommends supporting them by making sure they drink a lot of fluids and rest. "Help them with grocery shopping, filling prescriptions, and getting other items they may need," the CDC suggests. You can do this in a contactless way by using delivery services, then simply dropping these items outside their bedroom or quarantine room door.

Dr. Tanya Altmann, a pediatrician and author, told CNN another way to keep your kitchen safe is to use gloves when touching and cleaning dishes someone who has tested positive has also touched.

"You can have a healthy person leave the sick one food and drinks at the door, and then go wash their hands," she says of someone quarantining. "Wear gloves to pick up the empty plates, take them back to the kitchen and wash them in hot water with soap, or preferably with a dishwasher, and wash your hands again."

Experts also told CNN it's key to disinfect commonly touched surfaces in your kitchen, like the handles of your refrigerator and microwave, and to keep fresh air flowing throughout your home by opening windows or getting an air purifier with a HEPA filter or a humidifier.

In general, the CDC also recommends that everyone, regardless of infection status, take the necessary precautions by washing their hands frequently, disinfecting common surfaces regularly, and when going out in public, wearing a mask and distancing themselves from others.

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Amanda McDonald
Amanda is a staff writer for Eat This, Not That!. Read more