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The #1 Way Most People are Still Getting COVID

Stay alert, as there are still more than 2,000 deaths a day.

Thanks to vaccinations and a concerted public effort to curb the spread, COVID-19 is not as alarming as it was in 2020—but that doesn't mean it's over. "The seven day average of daily deaths are about 2,200 per day," CDC Chief Rochelle Walensky said at yesterday's COVID press briefing, "Omicron cases are declining and we are all cautiously optimistic about the trajectory we are on. Things are moving in the right direction, but we want to remain vigilant to do all we can so that this trajectory continues." So how could you still get COVID? Here is the most common way people are still getting COVID-19—and how you can protect yourself. Read on—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had COVID.


Indoor Gyms

multiracial group of 20 or 30-something adults on bikes in an indoor cycling class
Shutterstock / vectorfusionart

An indoor gym is the perfect environment to catch COVID-19, especially if you're near an infected person who is exhaling droplets and particles containing the virus and aren't aware of it. "Gyms are difficult to make completely safe," says Preeti Malani, MD. "It's really difficult to distance everyone enough there and also to prevent droplet formation because in some of the vigorous exercise that happens in a gym, you can't safely wear a mask. For people that have high risk, I would continue to advise that individuals exercise at home or outdoors and wait on the gym."

RELATED: CDC Says Here's When to Wear a Mask Now


Superspreader Events

Group of young friends making a toast at a dinner party

Large parties and gatherings are problematic because you can't always know for sure if the people around you are vaccinated, or even if they might be infected. "There are definitely big family gatherings, like a birthday party or a wedding, that can be a good example of a superspreader," says infectious disease doctor Donald Dumford, MD. "They may be your family, but often you don't all live under the same roof. There's still a risk because you don't know if every member has completely isolated themselves from other people, whether they've been hanging out with friends or going to restaurants. You really can't be sure about them unless you're under the same roof with them all the time. It's not really a 'bubble' unless that unit is the only one everyone interacts with. The worst-case scenarios are events where a large number of people are clustered together, talking or singing or some other sort of increased activity, especially in a poorly ventilated setting."

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Not Being Vaccinated

covid vaccine

People not vaccinated, or behind on their boosters, have a significantly higher chance of getting COVID-19 and variants such as Omicron. "For those people who are over it, but they haven't gotten vaccinated, Omicron is a signal that the coronavirus is not done with you yet," said Stephen Parodi, MD. "You do need to get that vaccination because it is clearly demonstrated that unvaccinated people are at really high risk for getting super sick and potentially dying. There's a fair amount of data now to suggest that you do significantly decrease your chance of getting infected at all if you have been boosted. And that if you do have a breakthrough infection, even with boosting, you're much less likely to be hospitalized or die from Omicron."

RELATED: Sure Signs You're Getting Omicron Now


Air Travel

Woman sitting in an airplane

Air travel is concerning for reasons other than the actual flight—it inevitably means being in close contact with others every step of the way. "When we think of flying, we also need to think in terms of the whole trip as an end to end process," says Rui Pombal, MD, medical director of the Aviation Medicine Centre and Travel Clinic at TAP Air Portugal Group Health Services. "It is in fact a journey that starts the moment you walk out the door to get into a vehicle—car, train or bus—that will take you to the airport, through airport procedures, flying itself, all the way to the activities you are going to engage in once you get to your destination. You cannot dissociate the risk from all those steps."

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The Most Common Way People Are Getting Covid Is…

Couple sitting together

Person-to person transmission is still the number one reason people are catching COVID-19, according to the World Health Organization: "Current evidence suggests that the virus spreads mainly between people who are in close contact with each other, for example at a conversational distance. The virus can spread from an infected person's mouth or nose in small liquid particles when they cough, sneeze, speak, sing or breathe." Aside from social distancing, the best way to prevent this from happening is to wear a mask. "We do encourage all Americans to wear a well-fitting mask to protect themselves and prevent the spread of COVID 19," says CDC director Rochelle Wolensky. "And the recommendation is not going to change. What I will say is the best mask that you wear is the one that you will wear, and the one you can keep on all day long, that you can tolerate in public indoor settings and tolerate where you need to wear it."

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How to Stay Safe Out There

Family after getting covid-19 vaccine.

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.

Ferozan Mast
Ferozan Mast is a science, health and wellness writer with a passion for making science and research-backed information accessible to a general audience. Read more about Ferozan
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