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Most People Catch COVID This Way, Experts Find

Here’s how to stay safe.

The face of the COVID-19 pandemic has changed a lot in the last few months—the number of the cases, public-health recommendations, even the virus itself has changed. One thing that remains the same, however, is the most common ways people contract the virus. These are how most people catch COVID these days, according to experts, and how you can protect yourself. Read on to find out more—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had COVID.


By Not Being Fully Vaccinated and Boosted

covid-19 vaccine

A major benefit of the COVID vaccines and boosters is that they're highly effective at preventing serious illness and death. But another good reason to get fully vaxxed and boosted is that it reduces your chance of contracting COVID at all. On a recent episode of his podcast, virus experts Dr. Michael Osterholm said the latest data indicates that people who've received a booster shot are four times less likely to test positive for COVID than people who are unvaccinated. 

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In Crowded, Maskless Gatherings

Crowd of people in a shopping center

A study recently published in the journal Environmental Science & Technology calculated the riskiest places for catching COVID. Using to a risk table, researchers determined the situation with the highest risk is a crowded, poorly ventilated area where people are breathing heavily and not wearing masks. The scientists called "gather[ing] together with lots of people in an enclosed space with poor air quality" a "surefire way to catch COVID-19," listing concert venues and clubs as examples.

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In Restaurants and Bars

young friends eating dinner together
Shutterstock / Monkey Business Images

From the beginning of the pandemic, health officials have warned that dining or drinking indoors is a major COVID risk. According to a CDC study, people who contracted the coronavirus were twice as likely to have eaten at a restaurant in the previous two weeks than people who tested negative. "Bars have become notorious as sources of COVID spread," a professor of infectious diseases at Vanderbilt University Medical Center said. "They are almost always indoors. People are there for prolonged periods of time, very close together, they're unmasked because they're drinking and talking. And that's the sine qua non for spread of a respiratory virus." 

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Being Maskless In Areas of High Transmission

Woman standing amidst a busy office going crowd hooked to their mobile phones. Businesswoman holding her hand bag standing still on a busy street with people walking past her using mobile phones.

Wearing a high-quality face mask in public is an easy way to defend yourself against COVID. An N95, KN94 or KF94 may block up to 95 percent of virus particles. The CDC has recently changed its guidelines for when an area is considered in "high transmission" of COVID and you should wear a face mask in public. You can check the status of your local area on the CDC's website or by calling 800-232-4636.


How to Stay Safe Out There

Family after getting covid-19 vaccine.

Follow the fundamentals and help end this pandemic, no matter where you live—get vaccinated ASAP; if you live in an area with low vaccination rates, wear an N95 face mask, don't travel, social distance, avoid large crowds, don't go indoors with people you're not sheltering with (especially in bars), practice good hand hygiene, 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.

Michael Martin
Michael Martin is a New York City-based writer and editor. Read more about Michael
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