Omicron is Still a Danger if You Enter These Places
On Friday, the CDC officially changed its guidance on who should wear a face mask in public. According to its new classification system—which considers the overall caseload and how stressed local hospitals are—only people in areas of "high" transmission should mask up. But Omicron is still highly contagious, and the Infectious Disease Society of America still classifies these activities as "high risk" for catching COVID, even if face masks are worn and social distancing is observed. 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.
Indoor Restaurants and Bars
Masking and vaccine requirements have been dropped for indoor dining by several cities nationwide, but the fact remains: When a highly contagious virus like Omicron is out there, an indoor restaurant or bar is a friendly source of transmission. Restaurants are often poorly ventilated, with people sitting close together and laughing or talking.
Going to a Place of Worship
The IASD still considers going to a house of worship as a high-risk activity. The issue here is also proximity and ventilation—social distancing is rarely observed, and any time you're indoors with a large group of people, you're putting yourself at increased risk of catching COVID.
Going to the Gym
The gym is still on the IASD's "high" risk list. A study recently published in the journal Environmental Science & Technology calculated the riskiest places for catching COVID. According to a risk table the researchers developed, the place with the highest risk is a crowded, poorly ventilated area where people are exercising heavily.
Going to Large Concert Venues
Just like indoor restaurants and bars, concert venues and clubs are a major risk for COVID transmission. The reason: They're usually poorly ventilated and packed with people who are maskless and talking, chanting, or singing, potentially expelling lots of virus particles into the air. The Environmental Science & Technology researchers called "gather[ing] together with lots of people in an enclosed space with poor air quality" a "surefire way to catch COVID-19," listing clubs as an example.
Attending An Event At a Sports Stadium
Last year, a group of epidemiologists ranked outdoor stadiums among the five riskiest areas for catching COVID. Even though they're in the fresh air, close seating makes social distancing impossible, and spectators are talking, yelling, and chanting, often unmasked. "Spectators at sporting events should consider the number of COVID-19 cases both where they live and where the sporting event is taking place before deciding to attend," the CDC says. "The higher the transmission of COVID-19 in the community, the higher the risk of transmission of COVID-19 at sporting events."
How to Stay Safe Out There
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.