I'm a Doctor and Beg You Don't Enter Here Now
COVID-19 cases are surging across the US—and even people fully vaccinated and boosted are getting infected. "It's important for us to realize that we are entering a new phase of this pandemic, but it's a little too early to call it over," says infectious disease epidemiologist David Dowdy, MD, PhD. "We have to realize that even though the average case of COVID-19 is getting milder, it still is quite disruptive, can lead to longer-term symptoms, and is very much a risk for those who don't have the same intact immune systems as others. We need to consider those people as we think about how to move forward—because we're all important members of society." Read on—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had COVID.
Indoor gyms are still very high-risk areas for virus infection, even if you're vaccinated. "Vigorous exercise puts out a lot of particles in the air and very small droplets that waft in the air, making it more likely that they're going to linger around and you could pick it up," says Dr. Marissa Levine, director of the Center for Leadership in Public Health Practice at the University of South Florida in Tampa. "It's particularly worrisome as we see these waves of disease… if you have a variant that's easy to transmit and you have a lot of them in a small space because people are exercising vigorously, that means your risk is going to be higher if you go into that setting."
Aside from being a crowded place where alcohol can lower inhibitions, many bars have dropped mask and vaccination requirements—so you quite literally have no idea what you're walking into. "When I'm in a loud situation, I tend to turn my head or my ear towards that person's mouth, but then their exhaled breath comes straight towards my face," says Dr. Julian W. Tang, associate professor at the University of Leicester in the U.K. "It makes me inhale even more of the air that they are exhaling that could be carrying virus. And louder speaking also expels more droplets. As people become intoxicated, they tend to talk louder, tell jokes or sing, which spreads more droplets. If you are telling a joke surrounded by people laughing in response, you may get much more exposure to their exhaled air that may be carrying virus because they are laughing towards you."
Nursing homes were hit hard at the beginning of the pandemic, and many of the residents are still vulnerable, especially with new subvariants such as BA.5 that are evading vaccine-induced immunity. "This is the greatest threat to nursing home residents that we have seen in many years, if not ever," said Dr. Michael Wasserman, president of the California Association of Long Term Care Medicine. "If there is one single thing that matters most right now, it's that if someone has a fever or a cough or feels sick, do not visit a nursing home. There should be no exceptions."
Crowded Indoor Events
Crowded indoor functions such as weddings are risky due to the potential of becoming superspreader events, virus experts warn. "For large events, especially those held indoors, the risk of being exposed to COVID-19 is increasing by the day," says Dr. Abraar Karan, an infectious disease fellow at Stanford. "And it's more than you think because we are under-detecting cases."
States With Low Vaccination Rates
"Experts warn we could see outbreaks in pockets of the country with the lowest vaccination rates — such as Mississippi, Alabama, Arkansas, Wyoming, and Louisiana — each of which has less than 36% of its total population fully vaccinated (compared to more than 47% for the country as a whole)," says CNN's Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta. And don't visit any of these 35 Places You're Most Likely to Catch COVID.