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Omicron Spreads When You Go Here, Say Experts

Avoid these COVID hotspots.

If the news about skyrocketing COVID-19 cases leaves you feeling helpless, you're not alone. The number of new daily cases has well surpassed the pandemic's previous peak, and the number of hospitalization are on track to follow. But that doesn't mean you can't avoid contracting the coronavirus. You can start by wearing a high-quality mask and avoiding places and scenarios that are COVID hotspots. Here's the latest information on where COVID spreads most, according to experts. 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.


Crowded Stores

crowded grocery store

A new study by UK researchers looked at non-household activities and COVID rates in a group of 10,000 people. It determined that people who went into stores once a week were nearly 2.2 times more likely to contract COVID than people who didn't go that often. In-person weekly shopping was the highest-risk activity the survey found. To stay safe, have necessities delivered or use curbside pickup.


Public Transportation

Woman in a medical mask in subway/

Those researchers—who are conducting the UK's large Virus Watch Study—also found that people who took public transportation were 1.3 times more likely to catch COVID than people who didn't. The study covered September 2020 to November 2021, before the global surge of the super-contagious Omicron variant, so that risk could be even higher today.

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Indoor Restaurants and Bars

Hispanic young woman having drink in cafe during coronavirus outbreak

The Virus Watch researchers found that eating at a restaurant or going to a bar or club was also carried a 1.3 times risk of contracting COVID. From the beginning of the pandemic, experts have warned that indoor restaurants and bars are a major source of COVID spread. To stay safe, order delivery or takeout, or dine and drink outdoors. (This week, some restaurants from Pennsylvania to California have voluntarily closed their dining rooms to go takeout- and delivery-only.)

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Attractive sports people are working out with dumbbells in gym

"Even with masks and vaccine mandates, indoor gyms continue to pose varying amounts of risks as not everyone may be masking at all times," Dr. Shadi Vahdat, an assistant clinical professor at UCLA, told ETNT Health this week. "Indoor exercise or spin classes where a lot of people can be in close proximity to each other and breathing heavily pose the highest risk. Choosing outdoor exercise classes or just being out in nature for a walk or jog away from other people is the best option for the time being."

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Large Gatherings

People interacting during coffee break at medical or scientific conference.

Experts agree: COVID spreads very efficiently in large indoor gatherings. "A large party with lots of people from work, or friends, or acquaintances, or whatever—where there are foods and beverages being served and you have to take your mask off to partake in those," is a no-go for Dr. Arthur Reingold, an infectious-disease expert at UC Berkeley, he told CBS San Francisco recently. In response to Omicron's surge, this week localities in California and Hawaii announced new restrictions or outright bans. 

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How to Stay Safe Out There

Young woman taking a vaccine from her doctor.

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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