Skip to content

Most People Catch COVID This Way, Science Says 

4 common ways people get COVID, according to experts.

We're two years into the pandemic and COVID isn't done with us just yet. Omicron is now spreading rapidly and although cases in some areas are dropping, in some states cases are spiking and hospitals are being pushed to the limits again. While experts are still learning about the virus and the variants, doctors know for sure how contagious COVID is and how people can catch it. Dr. Luke Palmisano MD, FACEP, CFL1 Associate Medical Director: Emergency Department Dignity Health California Hospital explains, "COVID is a virus which is transmitted in little saliva droplets. It can survive outside of someone's throat for a few hours. The idea is to not let one of these little saliva droplets (that you can't see) get in contact with any mucous membranes (eyes, nose, mouth/throat/lungs though to a lesser extent anus and vagina can receive infective droplets as well.) " Eat This, Not That! Health talked to top-ranking doctors who told us how most people get COVID and what we can do to protect ourselves. Read on—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had COVID.


Not Being Vaccinated

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

According to Infectious disease expert and pioneering scientific researcher Dr. Serhat Gumrukcu, "With the constant spike in the number of Omicron positive cases, it's evident that a lot of factors have contributed to the most recent mutation. Some of the top ways people are contracting the virus are low vaccination rates, and lack of social distancing.  Large social gatherings held in confined spaces with individuals who are not 100% fully vaccinated have also led to an increase in COVID-19 cases." 



crowded grocery store

LetsGetChecked's Executive Director of Epidemiology, Dr. Gwen Murphy, Ph.D., MPH  explains, "Coronavirus is very easy to transmit. While the highest risk of you picking up the infection is from contact with someone who is sick, we all know now that you can pick up the infection from people who are not showing any symptoms, or not yet showing symptoms. In fact people are MOST infectious in the days before they develop symptoms. The virus will spread in the small liquid droplets (some visible, some not) from an infected person's mouth or nose when they cough or sneeze, speak, sing or even breathe. You will become infected when you inhale these droplets or aerosols or when they make contact with your eyes, nose or mouth."

RELATED: 5 Benefits of Marijuana, Says Dr. Sanjay Gupta




Dr. Murphy says, "If you are close enough to someone else to be able to have a conversation and hear them easily you can also assume that if they are infected, those droplets are landing on you, whether or not you can see it. Wearing a mask when talking to someone like this greatly reduces the chance that you will pass on the infection, but it does not fully protect you from picking up the virus from someone else. Next time you find yourself talking to someone just take a step back to put some distance between each other which makes it harder for the droplets to transfer from one person to the other." 

RELATED: Proven Ways to Make People Think You're Younger 


Confined Spaces

finger presses the elevator button

"If you think of a cold morning in winter when we can see our breath as we exhale — imagine those clouds now, imagine clouds of breath around everyone," Dr. Murphy states. "Now imagine all of these people together in an indoor space with no open windows — the clouds of exhalation would just hang in the air with nowhere to go. If you imagine one person in this room who is unknowingly infected you can see how easily those virus droplets landing on someone else or being inhaled by someone else. Meeting outdoors or keeping doors and windows open means the droplets are less likely to hang in the air and hopefully less likely to land on other people."

RELATED: Surefire Ways to Stop Obesity, Says Science


Get Vaccinated

Nurse taking blood sample from young female patient in the background. Selective focus on sample tube.

Dr. Palmisano says, "Getting a vaccine is a more sophisticated protection. The idea of a vaccine is to expose the body's immune system to a small non-infectious part of the virus so it can generate an immune response (antibodies) against the virus. When you then are exposed to the virus after a vaccine you have antibodies ready to neutralize the virus. Here lies the controversy: it is a non-perfect science but works very well. The vaccine can help you not get infected with the virus, but it also extends the benefit if you are exposed enough to get infected where the immune system is primed and ready to fight the virus. The infections of those vaccinated (when they occur) tend to be less severe and more mild. This is further complicated by the mutation of the COVID virus, whereas as the small virus changes, the vaccine antibodies might not detect it as well. This is the promise of mRNA vaccines though – they can be changed on a micro-protein level quickly. Look for future boosters to be a touch different molecularly. "


Stay Healthy

Happy woman eating healthy salad sitting on the table with green fresh ingredients indoors

"By far the most beneficial protection against COVID is to be fit. Eat a natural non-processed, chemical-free diet that has zero refined sugar along with having a good work capacity – meaning to be able to exercise intensely for an extended period of time will give you the best protection against COVID. If you do both of these, your protection is the best," Dr. Palmisano states. 

RELATED: Warning Signs You Have "Too Much Fat," Say Experts


How to Stay Safe Out There

Woman in a restaurant with face protection mask kn95.

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.

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
Filed Under