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You're Most Likely to Catch COVID Here, Says Dr. Gupta

FACT CHECKED BY Emilia Paluszek

Dr. Anthony Fauci has been called "America's Doctor" but before he was on every TV channel, there was another man who may have claimed that title: CNN's Dr. Sanjay Gupta. The clear-eyed medical professional appeared on CNN's New Day program the other day to discuss what you should and should not do if you're vaccinated, and why we're not out of the woods yet. Read on for 5 essential points from the doctor—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Signs Your Illness is Actually Coronavirus in Disguise.


Dr. Gupta Says You're Most Likely to Catch COVID Indoors—So Should You Wear a Mask Outside?

Woman put on medical protective mask for protection against coronavirus.

Do we need to wear a mask outside—even if you're vaccinated? "Let me try and answer it this way," said Dr. Gupta. "I think that the vast majority of viral transmission is not happening outside. In fact, we put together some of the numbers we've talked about, the fact that overall, if you look at new cases of people becoming infected, fewer than 10% are happening outdoors….It's about close to 19 times less likely to happen outdoors versus indoors." However, Dr. Gupta says that doesn't mean you can wear a mask outdoors—keep reading to see what to consider before taking yours off.


Dr. Gupta Says Consider These Factors Before Removing Your Mask

young woman wearing a hygiene protective mask over her face while walking at the crowded place

"So what are the factors then that make that different?" said Dr. Gupta about what's dangerous outside and what isn't. "I'd say for the most part, you don't need to wear a mask outdoors—there's countries around the world like Israel that says you no longer need to do that. I think you just got to use common sense here. I mean, the virus is contagious. It doesn't like to be outdoors. It doesn't like to be in the sunlight, but if you are closely clustered together, if there's lots of people in a single area, if you're going to be there for long periods of time—and a very important caveat is, what is the sort of viral transmission in your area? If there's a lot of virus spreading in your area, a lot of positive tests…you may consider that then if you're going to be in that sort of situation….There's a lot of factors that go into this. What is the likelihood I'm going to breathe in someone else's air—that's basically it—number of people, the type of setting, obviously indoors versus outdoors. And what is the overall viral spread in your community?"


Dr. Gupta Says Indoor Dining in a Full Capacity Restaurant is a No-No

Group of business people ordering their meal at the restaurant.

Is it safe to sit in a restaurant? "I think it's one of the most common questions I get from my own family and friends," said Dr. Gupta. "The thing about indoor dining—it still, if it's truly indoors, is that the ventilation in there is the big question. This gets back to what I was just talking about. How likely are you to breathe in someone else's air now. If everyone's been vaccinated—then I think you're in a much different sort of position. People are not likely to get sick and they're not likely to be spreading the virus. But if you're in an area of the country where there's still a lot of virus spreading, you're obviously coming across lots of different households and you obviously have to remove your mask to eat or drink—that's the big concern in most places in the country." As for "full capacity, indoor dining—I can't imagine that it would be advised. I mean, it's just still too risky that there's still too great a chance that you're going to actually potentially be exposed to the virus. I think limited capacity and looking at what the virus is doing in your community for where I live. For example, I think it'd be very hard to justify full capacity, indoor dining, maybe over the next few months—we'll get to that point or maybe even a few weeks into the summer, but we're not quite there yet."

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Dr. Gupta Says Cases May Go Up and Down All Year

female medical worker in protective mask

If there's vaccine hesitancy, will that slow our chances of getting to herd immunity, and this the end of the pandemic? "What we could see, and this could be a real model, is that we may still dip into herd immunity over the summer," said Dr. Gupta, "in part, because the virus will just start to dissipate a little bit with the warmer weather—more people being outside. You may not get as much spread, but we could see a resurgence then in the fall. People often think of this herd or community immunity as the final destination, which we hope it is, but it is possible that you could sort of dip in and out of that as well, which is why over these next few months, it's so important to get as many people vaccinated as possible." 


Dr. Gupta Wondered How Many People Have Immunity—That's the Important Question

happy woman enjoying summer outdoors

"We keep measuring this by the number of vaccinations, which is a very reasonable measure," said Dr. Gupta. "The real question we're trying to ask is how many people out there have immunity to this virus? And that is made up of people who've been vaccinated, but also people who have been previously infected—now, that's probably a pretty significant number. We don't know really still how many people have been previously infected because we've never had adequate testing and we still don't, but people say it's probably three times the official number two and a half to three times the official number. So you maybe have 80 to a hundred million people who have immunity from having been previously infected—another layer of nuance. Some of those people have then become vaccinated. So you can't count them twice. There's a lot that's wrapped into it. All of it to say vaccination numbers, plus a degree of natural immunity, is actually going to be helpful. I'm not suggesting anyone get infected to get immunity, but I'm saying it's probably gonna be helpful when you add these numbers together." So get vaccinated when it becomes available to you, and to protect your life and the lives of others, don't visit any of these 35 Places You're Most Likely to Catch COVID.

Alek Korab
Alek Korab is a Co-Founder and Managing Editor of the ETNT Health channel on Eat This, Not That! Read more about Alek