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Most COVID Patients Did This Before Getting Sick

MD shares six ways people are at greater risk for COVID.
FACT CHECKED BY Alek Korab

It's been well over two years since the World Health Organization declared a global pandemic and we're all understandably exhausted and over it to the point that many have let their guard down or have become desensitized to the seriousness of the situation. But, COVID continues to spread around the world and many countries are currently experiencing a surge, including the United States where we've seen a large spike in cases. So why are so many people getting COVID right now? Dr. Tomi Mitchell, a Board-Certified Family Physician with Holistic Wellness Strategies shares a few ways people are catching the virus now and reminds people to avoid behaviors that can put you at greater risk. "The COVID pandemic is far from over. The latest virus variant contributes to spiking cases in many parts of the world. This new variant is more contagious than the original, and it is spreading rapidly. In addition, this variant is more resistant to the currently available vaccines. Frankly, this is frustrating, as it might seem that we are losing ground regarding the COVID pandemic. As a result, everyone needs to continue to take precautions against the virus." Read on—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had COVID.

1

Not Wearing a Mask or the Proper One

Woman working textile factory during the COVID-19 pandemic and fixing her facemask
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Dr. Mitchell tells us, "Given the highly contagious nature of COVID-19, everyone must take precautions to protect themselves and others. One of the most important things we can do is wear a mask in public spaces. Mask (especially well-fitted, N95 type masks) -wearing effectively reduces the spread of the virus, and it is, therefore, one of the key recommendations from health authorities. However, despite this, I have heard of many cases where individuals wearing a mask have still contracted COVID-19. In most of these cases, the individual was in a public space where most people were not wearing masks. This underscores the importance of mask-wearing: even if you take all the necessary precautions, you are still at risk if those around you are not. Therefore, we all must do our part to help stop the spread of COVID-19 by wearing a mask whenever we leave our homes."

2

Not Hand Washing Frequently Enough

man washing in bathroom
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Dr. Mitchell emphasizes, "Handwashing is an essential part of preventing the spread of disease. By washing your hands, you remove dirt, bacteria, and viruses that can cause illness. Hand Washing is necessary when you are around people who are sick when you are preparing food, and after using the toilet. Washing your hands regularly is one of the best ways to reduce the risk of getting COVID-19. The virus that causes COVID-19 can spread from person to person through contact with respiratory secretions, such as saliva or mucus. You can also become infected by touching surfaces contaminated with the virus and touching your eyes, nose, or mouth. Washing your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds can help to remove the virus from your hands and prevent it from spreading to others. You should also avoid touching your face, particularly your eyes, nose, and mouth, to reduce the risk of infection."

3

Not Keeping Your Distance

Social distance sign at supermarket.
Shutterstock

"Most people are familiar with the general recommendation to keep a six-foot distance from others to help prevent the spread of coronavirus," says Dr. Mitchell. However, research has shown that the virus can be spread through small aerosolized particles, which means that the six-foot rule may not be enough. The further you can be from other people, the better. This is especially important in enclosed spaces where there is limited ventilation. Unfortunately, in many workplaces, public transportation, and other crowded areas, keeping a safe distance from others is not always possible. However, it is essential to do so whenever possible to help prevent the spread of coronavirus."

4

Going to an Event

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Dr. Mitchell states, "It's important to remember that everyone has different risk tolerances. A manageable risk for one person could be deadly for another. We all need to respect each other's decisions about what level of risk they are willing to take. That being said, it's also important to be informed about the risks involved in any given situation. With the current pandemic, there are a lot of unknowns, and it can be hard to make an informed decision. However, there are some things we do know. For example, we know that the virus is primarily spread through respiratory droplets, so activities that involve close contact or sharing breathing space are more likely to result in transmission. We also know that people with underlying health conditions are at higher risk of developing severe illness if they contract the virus. Based on this information, we can make informed decisions about which activities we are comfortable doing and which we would prefer to avoid. When in doubt, err on caution and choose the option that involves less close contact or fewer people.

Several recent reports of people testing positive for covid-19 shortly after attending a public gathering. While the exact reason for this is not yet known, it is thought that the proximity of people at these events may play a role. For example, studies have shown that the virus can be spread through respiratory droplets. It is believed that these droplets can travel further than six feet when people are near one another. As a result, people who attend crowded events may be at an increased risk of exposure to the virus. This is particularly important to consider during the current pandemic, as large gatherings are still being held in many parts of the world. Therefore, if you plan to attend a public event, taking precautions such as wearing a face mask and maintaining social distance is essential. By accepting these measures, you can help to protect yourself and others from the spread of covid-19."

5

Letting Your Guard Down When It Comes To A Healthy Lifestyle

Woman wearing surgical mask on face protective for spreading of disease Covid-19 pandemic.. Girl symptom cough while sitting on Sofa.
iStock

Dr. Mitchell explains, "There are many reasons that people might let their guard down when it comes to their health. For example, they might get out of their health routines, or they might not take the necessary precautions when they are around others. When this happens, they might be at increased risk for COVID. COVID is a serious respiratory illness that can cause severe symptoms, including pneumonia and death. Therefore, everyone must take the necessary precautions to protect themselves and others from COVID. This includes washing your hands often, avoiding close contact with sick people, and wearing a face mask around others. If you are sick, staying home and away from others is essential to prevent spreading the disease. Taking these simple steps can help to protect yourself and others from COVID."

6

Going Back Into The Office

people with face masks back at work or school in office after lockdown
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According to Dr. Mitchell, "When work-from-home options were lifted and everyone returned to the office, I saw many of my patients contract COVID 19. This is not surprising, as the typical workplace can be a perfect breeding ground for acquiring COVID 19. There are several reasons for this:

  1. There are often close quarters in an office setting, which makes it easy for the virus to spread from person to person.
  2. People tend to touch joint surfaces such as doorknobs, elevator buttons, and photocopiers throughout the day, providing another avenue for infection.
  3. Office workers often take breaks together or eat lunch nearby, further increasing the chances of transmission.

While there is no guaranteed way to prevent the spread of COVID 19 in the workplace, there are some steps that employers can take to lessen the risk. These include ensuring that there is adequate ventilation, providing alcohol-based hand sanitizer and tissues, and encouraging employees to stay home if they are sick. By taking these precautions, employers can help create a safer working environment for their employees.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the following underlying health conditions put people at increased risk for severe illness from coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19):

Cancer

Chronic kidney disease

Cirrhosis of the liver

COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease)

Down syndrome

Heart conditions, such as heart failure, coronary artery disease, or cardiomyopathies 

Immunocompromised state (weakened immune system) from solid organ transplant

Obesity (body mass index [BMI] of 30 or higher)

Pregnancy

Sickle cell disease

Smoking 

Type 2 diabetes mellitus 

People with these underlying health conditions may have an increased risk for more severe complications from COVID-19. This list is not all-inclusive. Other underlying health conditions may put people at increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19. CDC will continue to update this list as we learn more about COVID-19. Some risk factors are not preventable; however, many of them are–through healthy lifestyle choices, staying fit and active, keeping a good attitude and reducing stress, not smoking, and living a proactive, holistically inspired lifestyle, I can reduce my risks of serious complications." 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.

Dr. Mitchell says this "doesn't constitute medical advice and by no means are these answers meant to be comprehensive. Rather, it's to encourage discussions about health choices."

 

Heather Newgen
Heather Newgen has two decades of experience reporting and writing about health, fitness, entertainment and travel. Heather currently freelances for several publications. Read more
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