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Places You Shouldn't Go Even if They're Open, According to an MD

Experts explain why COVID cases are rising and how to stay healthy.
FACT CHECKED BY Emilia Paluszek

COVID-19 cases are on the rise across the United States and some areas are reimplementing the safety guidelines like Yellowstone National Park, which is requiring anyone over the age of 2-years-old to wear a mask inside their facilities. With an uptick of cases, staying healthy is vital and Eat This, Not That Health spoke with experts who explain what to know about COVID and how to help avoid catching the virus. As always, please consult with your physician for medical advice. Read on—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had COVID.


What Should People Know About COVID Right Now?

Little girl is sick using oxygen mask on her face laying in bed at hospital.

Dr. Laura Purdy, MD, MBA, 'America's Doctor', Licensed to practice in all 50 states, Physician Executive, Psychologist, Digital Health Evangelist, Veteran says, "People should know that Covid is still around and there are still some new strains coming out. However, the severity of the infection is not what it was with previous strains. There are some antiviral medications available now, such as pecks loaded. This is widely available and there are lots of resources online where a virtual doctor can prescribe this for you quickly within the same day. Vaccines are widely available and very effective for the strains of COVID that are circulating right now. Additionally, the vaccines are approved for many children now as well."


Why COVID Cases are Rising Again?

Doctor wearing safety protective mask supporting and cheering up senior patient

Dr. Tomi Mitchell, a Board-Certified Family Physician with Holistic Wellness Strategies explains, "After several months of decline, the number of COVID-19 cases in the United States is again rising. While it is still too early to say definitively why this is happening, there are a few possible explanations. One possibility is that people have become complacent about the virus and are no longer taking the necessary precautions, such as wearing masks and social distancing. Another option is that the virus has mutated and become more contagious. However, it is also possible that the increase in cases is simply due to more testing being conducted. Whatever the reason, it is clear that the fight against COVID-19 is far from over. And so long as the number of cases continues to rise, we must all remain vigilant in our efforts to prevent the spread of this disease."


Pandemic Fatigue

Thoughtful girl sitting on sill embracing knees looking at window, sad depressed teenager spending time alone at home, young upset pensive woman feeling lonely or frustrated thinking about problems

Dr. Mitchell states, "People have become complacent about following safety guidelines. As the months have worn by, people have grown tired of social distancing and wearing masks. They are eager to return to their everyday lives and are willing to take risks to do so. In addition, some states have begun to relax their restrictions, contributing to the rise in cases. The virus can spread faster as people start to let their guard down. This is a worrying trend, highlighting the importance of following safety guidelines even as vaccines become more widely available." 


How Effective is the Vaccine Against the Dominant Strains?


Dr. Purdy shares, "It is not 100% effective, which is very similar to the way that influenza vaccines work. But what we do know is that the vaccines decrease the severity and also the length of the illness, and can also prevent disease in many people as well. The effectiveness of the vaccine against individual strains will vary based on the properties of the individual virus strains. The way that we would expect the virus to respond to the available vaccines is very similar to how we see influenza viruses respond to their available seasonal vaccines."


Omicron Subvariants

Young sick woman laying in her bed.

According to Dr. Purdy, "Right now there are a couple of new subvariant strains circulating. All of the subvariance in the US that are currently being monitored are subvariants of the omicron variant that we saw earlier in the year. Omicron variance generally is associated with a lesser disease severity and they seem to be also less susceptible to the vaccine. There doesn't seem to be any wide variation in the symptoms of the various strains, meaning that the clinical presentations are very similar even for the variance and sub variants."


Since the Original COVID Strain is No Longer Dominant Why Should People Still Get Vaccinated?

Doctor with a syringe of COVID-19 vaccine and a patient's hand refusing.

Dr. Purdy explains, "Although the vaccine was developed for a prior strain, it doesn't mean that the vaccine is completely ineffective for new strains. There are still similarities between the variance, enough so that the vaccine does still have benefits."


Crowded Concert

Girl enjoying the outdoor music festival concert. -

Dr. Mitchell states, "Who doesn't love a great concert- the music, lights, energy, crowded, sweaty, screaming, singing crowds? This is the perfect recipe for contracting COVID. As the world continues to grapple with the COVID-19 pandemic, many events and activities have been moved online or canceled outright. One of the most notable casualties has been live music. With indoor concerts posing a significant risk of contracting the virus, many venues have been forced to close their doors. However, some artists have begun experimenting with outdoor concerts. While this presents its challenges, it may be a safer option for both performers and fans.

Outdoor concerts have several advantages over indoor ones when it comes to preventing the spread of COVID-19. First, there is increased outdoor ventilation, which helps disperse any respiratory droplets that may contain the virus. Additionally, outdoor space allows fans to spread out and maintain social distancing. And finally, outdoor concerts can be held in open-air venues, which reduces the risk of exposure to infected surfaces. Of course, outdoor concerts are not without their challenges. Performing in hot weather can be difficult for musicians, and inclement weather can make conditions even more challenging. Additionally, sound quality can be an issue in outdoor venues, making it difficult for fans to enjoy the concert experience fully. Well, you might be thinking, "what about indoor concerts?"

While indoor concerts may be a fun way to enjoy live music, they also pose a serious risk of contracting coronavirus. The proximity of people in a confined space means a greater chance for the virus to spread. In addition, the loud noise level at concerts can make it difficult for people to hear each other, leading to closer contact. And finally, many people attend concerts while under alcohol, which can lower inhibitions and lead to more risky behavior. For all these reasons, one must be aware of the risks associated with indoor concerts before attending one. If you decide to go to an indoor concert, take precautions such as wearing a mask, staying six feet apart from others, and washing your hands often."


Escape Room

Young woman standing at the public park, enjoying a beautiful day out. She is smiling behind N95 face mask she is wearing.

Dr. Mitchell explains, "An escape room is a real-life room or series of rooms in which players are locked inside and must solve puzzles using clues and strategies to escape within a set time limit. While escape rooms can be great fun, they also pose a high risk of contracting COVID-19. First, players are often near one another, making it easy for the virus to spread. Second, escape rooms often require players to touch objects and surfaces, increasing the risk of transmission. Finally, most escape rooms do not have adequate ventilation, making it difficult for the virus to dissipate. For these reasons, players must take extra precautions when playing escape rooms, such as wearing masks and maintaining social distance."


Crowded Doctor's Office

Female doctor consults mature patient during the quarantine for coronavirus.

Dr. Mitchell says, "Well, you might be thinking, why would a doctor say to avoid a doctor's waiting room? I am not saying to go, as it's essential to get timely care. However, if you have to go for an in-person visit, then it's necessary to weigh your risk factor. You should wear a mask and see if the doctor's office would give you a time of the day where it's not as busy–usually the first thing in the morning. Another suggestion is that if your doctor has the means to provide virtual appointments, or other virtual means, use it to communicate with your doctor instead of coming into the office and waiting room. These are just some recommendations to consider if you have to visit the doctor's office during this pandemic.

One of the blessings of the COVID pandemic was that it opened up the opportunity to be paid for virtual consults. Before COVID, I could not bill for a virtual visit, and as a result, patients had to come into the office, which, quite frankly, in some cases, wasn't a good use of the patient's time. So I scheduled my office to have long breaks between in-person visits and used virtual care appointments as a buffer.

Stay safe and be well!"


Follow CDC Guidelines When Going Out

The young girl with medical mask on her face stands on the crowded street.

Dr. Purdy has a different view and shares, "At this time, as a physician I do not recommend avoiding going places to prevent catching Covid. Vaccination at hand and cough hygiene are very effective in preventing disease transmission as well as infection.  Avoiding going places will not ensure that someone will not catch COVID. If someone is considering traveling and they are concerned about COVID activity in the area, I would encourage them to look at the CDC website for local statistics prior to going to that destination so that they can make their own informed decision about whether or not they will choose to go there." And the lives of others, don't visit any of these 35 Places You're Most Likely to Catch COVID.

Heather Newgen
Heather Newgen has two decades of experience reporting and writing about health, fitness, entertainment and travel. Heather currently freelances for several publications. Read more about Heather