Never Go Here During Omicron Surge, Experts Warn
As the COVID-19 pandemic enters its third year, many Americans are feeling frustrated with restrictions and eager to resume normal life. Not so fast, health officials say, pointing to the record number of cases and deaths still being caused by the super-contagious Omicron variant. As uncomfortable as it may be, if you want to avoid catching Omicron—and potentially infecting others who may be vulnerable to severe illness—the safest course of action is to avoid certain places for now, experts say. 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.
Nightclubs or Concert Venues
Often poorly ventilated and crowded with maskless people who are talking or singing, clubs and concert venues are hotspots for COVID transmission. In fact, scientists called "gather[ing] together with lots of people in an enclosed space with poor air quality" a "surefire way to catch COVID-19," in a new study published in the journal Environmental Science & Technology, listing nightclubs as a specific example.
Indoor Restaurants and Bars
Experts have warned against indoor dining since the beginning of the pandemic—as with clubs, you're likely to be around unmasked people in poorly ventilated spaces. "Dining in right now as Omicron is sweeping across the state is risky because in order to dine you must take off your mask," said Dr. Christine Petersen, an infectious-disease at the University of Iowa, last Friday. Her suggestion: Do takeout instead. "What we do know really well is this virus does not spread on surfaces, so getting takeout boxes from a restaurant is not a risk to you at all."
"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 recently. "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."
A recent UK study calculated the risk of catching COVID while doing various non-household activities. Researchers found that people who visited stores once a week were nearly 2.2 times more likely to contract COVID than people who didn't do in-person shopping. It was the highest-risk activity the researchers found—even greater than going to bars or taking public transportation. To stay safe from COVID, experts recommend skipping in-person shopping and opting for delivery or curbside pickup instead.
On Monday, the CDC moved 15 countries—including five popular tourist islands—to its list of "Level 4" areas where Americans are advised not to visit because of the "very high" spread of COVID-19. They include the Caribbean destinations the Dominican Republic, Guadeloupe, Jamaica, Saint Barthélemy and Saint Martin. More than 100 countries are now on the list, which you can check out here.
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.