#1 Places You're Most Likely to Catch BA.5
BA.5 is still the dominant strain of COVID-19 in the US—and even people who are fully vaccinated are in danger of getting infected. "Each of these subvariants have gotten better than the preceding one at infecting people who have been vaccinated or previously infected," says Stephen Goldstein, PhD, virologist at the University of Utah Spencer Fox Eccles School of Medicine. "It's really important for people to understand that vaccines aren't likely to provide long-term protection from getting infected, but they significantly increase the likelihood that your illness will be short, and not severe." Here are five places you are at high risk of getting BA.5, according to experts. Read on—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had COVID.
Want a practical guarantee that you'll get BA.5? Visit an indoor gym where people are packed together like sardines. "[As an exercise physiologist], and we knew before that when you exercise, there's more air coming out of a person," says Henning Wackerhage, professor of exercise biology at Technische Universität München. "But we didn't know before, and which, quite frankly, I didn't expect, is that also when we exercise hard: there are more particles per liter of air." Other experts are more blunt. "If you're not willing to get COVID don't go," says Dr. Michael Klompas, a hospital epidemiologist and infectious disease physician at Brigham and Women's Hospital. "At a time like now, when there's a lot of COVID around, it is a high risk proposition."
Bars and Restaurants
Indoor bars and restaurants are particularly high-risk for getting BA.5. "Restaurants and bars are of particular risk primarily because interactions between people occur within 6 feet of others," says the Dallas County Public Health Committee. "The CDC released a study of 314 adults which found that individuals with COVID-19 were more likely to have eaten at a restaurant or been in a bar in the previous 2 weeks. In people without known COVID-19 contacts, the risk of catching COVID-19 doubled by visiting restaurants or bars if the majority of patrons were wearing masks and quadrupled if they were not."
Nightclubs are risky for several reasons: People shouting over the music (or singing), no social distancing, no masks. "There is a good reason that clubs have been first to close and last to open in the face of the pandemic," says Dr Paul McKay of Imperial College London. "During a pandemic, going clubbing just might be the most dangerous thing you can do. It's the same for gyms, but in clubs there is usually alcohol involved, meaning that inhibitions and social distancing are likely to be severely reduced."
"Outside is better than inside, so if you're going to the movies, be fully vaccinated and masked," says Dr. Georges Benjamin, executive director of the American Public Health Association. "I wasn't a fan of vaccine passports before, but I'm there now. There's equitable access to vaccines. If a business wants you to show a vaccine card, there's no reason why you shouldn't. I would require people to wear a mask in common areas. And of course, I'd give caution to people with underlying medical problems."
The #1 Place Is… Cruise Ships
The CDC has lifted restrictions on cruise ships—but that does not make these "floating Petri dishes" safe. In fact, cruise ships are one of the most high-risk environments for rapid spread of disease. "In general, you've got passengers and crew members from different parts of the world mixing intimately and intensely for a short period of time," says Prof Sanjaya Senanayake, an infectious diseases specialist at the Australian National University. "They've all got varying levels of immunity and so that does set things up for an infection outbreak. Say if someone sneezed on to a table, and then someone else immediately touches that table, that could lead to infection. People might not all be talking to each other – but they are in shared spaces like swimming pools, spas, dining rooms and auditoriums." 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.