80% of COVID Transmissions Happen Here, Doctor Warns
Want to avoid catching COVID-19? If you stay away from five places, you have a pretty good chance. That's because 80 percent of COVID transmissions occur in restaurants, bars, cafés, hotels and houses of worship, says CNN's chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta. In an interview late last year on New Day, Gupta said full-scale lockdowns weren't necessary to quash the coronavirus; instead, he recommended that "we actually started to employ mask mandates and talk about those five locations." Here's what the experts say about each. Read on, and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had Coronavirus.
The restaurant experience usually involves sitting in close proximity to strangers with your mouth and nose uncovered most of the time. No wonder health officials made indoor dining public enemy #1 during the pandemic. According to a September study by the CDC, people who tested positive for coronavirus were twice as likely to have eaten at a restaurant in the previous two weeks than people testing negative.
The thing that makes bars so much fun—people relaxing and letting their inhibitions wane—also makes them COVID hotspots. A new study published in The Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs says COVID safety rules don't work in bars, especially when people are intoxicated. Researchers visited 29 pubs in Scotland, which were allowed to reopen with strict safety measures. Problem was, they were constantly disobeyed: Staff members didn't consistently wear face masks, and patrons didn't observe social distancing at tables or when bellying up to the bar. Health officials have warned Americans to stay out of indoor bars since the beginning of the pandemic; that advice still stands.
We're all eager to get back to our neighborhood hangouts and linger over a cup of coffee, glass of wine or lunch special. Trouble is, hanging out can lead to inhaling respiratory droplets that are hanging around or being expelled from the mouths and noses of chatting customers—an efficient way to contract the coronavirus.
Hotels are problematic for the spread of COVID because so many people are passing through them; some may have been on crowded planes or packed terminals—another risk factor for the virus. "Stay home to protect yourself and others from COVID-19," the CDC advises on its website. "Spending time with people you live with is safer than doing things and spending time with people not from your household." The agency rates your home as the safest place to be, with vacation rentals "less safe" and hotels "even less safe."
Houses of Worship
Sitting shoulder-to-shoulder, singing, praying and shaking hands—going to religious services can be comforting in normal times, but now it's extremely dangerous. Houses of worship have repeatedly been linked to COVID-19 outbreaks, with some becoming superspreader events. Last November, an outbreak at one North Carolina church led to more than 200 cases and 12 deaths.
How to Survive This Pandemic
As for yourself, do everything you can to prevent getting—and spreading—COVID-19 in the first place: Wear a 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, and to get through this pandemic at your healthiest, don't miss these 35 Places You're Most Likely to Catch COVID.