Places to "Never" Enter During This Surge
It's not a great way to start off the new year with a winter surge of COVID, but that's where we're at and as Omicron cases are soaring across the country, "many are left wondering what activities they should avoid and what may be safer options," says Dr. Shadi Vahdat, an assistant clinical professor at UCLA and medical director at LiveWell Integrative Medicine. While there's no surefire way to not get COVID, there are many things we can do to prevent it like getting vaccinated, wearing masks, social distancing and staying away from certain places right now. Dr. Vahdat spoke with Eat This, Not That! Health who revealed the places to avoid. Read her tips below and read on—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had COVID.
Bars and Eating Inside Restaurants
According to Dr. Vahdat, "Bars and indoor restaurants continue to pose a high risk because of potential overcrowding, poor ventilation and removal of masks during meals. Even in cities that have mandated showing proof of vaccination to dine indoors, the actual enforcement of those mandates has been very inconsistent. Far too often the vaccine documents are not looked at very closely and not checked against a photo ID. Safer options would be outdoor dining where there is plenty of space between tables or even better yet using a food delivery service or curbside pickup."
Salons and Spas
Dr. Vahdat says, "With the sudden rise of Omicron cases and a lot of uncertainty about the severity of illness that it could potentially cause in different populations, exercising extra precautions during the post-holiday period is highly advisable. Salons and spas where clients may need to remove their masks for certain treatments pose a heightened risk and would be best avoided at this time. Safer options would be visiting salons that offer outdoor services or trying out your own DIY facemask in the safety of your home."
"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. Vahdat explains. "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."
Dr. Vahdat states, "Any crowded indoor environment where people come into close contact with each other or stand in long lines should be avoided at this time. This is particularly relevant to overcrowded grocery stores and supermarkets. So during this unprecedented surge of Covid-19 cases it might be best to avoid a Costco visit on a weekend; instead opt to do your shopping at a less busy time and make your visit as quick and efficient as possible to avoid being around a lot of people."
Any Close Contact with People
"Busy waiting areas of any kind like the airport, doctor's office, DMV, train or bus station where people are coming into close contact with others who may or may not be masked for prolonged periods will pose greater risk," Dr. Vahdat explains. "If possible it would be best to consider canceling that unnecessary trip which may require use of public transportation. If the use of public transport is unavoidable there are some options that may be better than others depending on the types of filter and ventilation used. In situations where there is an option to obtain a service via phone, video or zoom choose that before attending an in person visit that would put you at greater risk of exposure."
How to Stay Safe Out There
Follow the public health fundamentals and help end this pandemic, no matter where you live—get vaccinated or boosted 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.