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5 Sure Ways You Can Catch COVID, According to a Doctor

This emergency physician unveils where the virus is hiding.
FACT CHECKED BY Emilia Paluszek

The health news this past month has been dominated by the COVID-19 vaccines that have been developed. But even with all the precautions that everyone is taking, people are still contracting this virus. As an Emergency Physician, I am often asked by patients how they contracted COVID-19, even though they are taking all the necessary steps to protect themselves. Here are 5 common ways that you may have contracted COVID-19. Read on, and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had Coronavirus.


Asymptomatic Carrier

Family talking over dinner.

Unlike most common viruses, COVID-19 has created a very large amount of symptomatic carriers. These individuals are actively infected with the virus, but they are not showing any symptoms. Even though fevers, chills, cough, or even loss of sense of smell is common, there are many people that have no symptoms. It is difficult to have someone quarantine when they are showing no outward signs of COVID-19 infection. The possibility of being around a person who is infected but not showing any signs of infection is one of the main factors behind the recommendations to minimize contact with anyone that does not live in your house.


Symptomatic Negative Test

Doctor show rapid laboratory COVID-19 test for diagnosis new Corona virus infection

Many patients have been exhibiting signs of upper respiratory viruses but when they are tested for COVID-19, the result is negative. This phenomenon is well known to anyone who works within the Emergency Department. Many tests, such as flu, or COVID-19, have to be collected adequately within a certain amount of time of the onset of symptoms in order to be accurate. Many patients are presenting to the ED with symptoms, found to have a negative swab, and many return to normal activities. In reality, there is a possibility that their symptoms are going to progress or continue and they are possible COVID-19 positive. If you have any symptoms of an upper respiratory virus, it is important to quarantine until you are better.


Breaking Quarantine Early

Young woman in protective medical mask and warm clothing opening door to store

A diagnosis of COVID-19 has been accompanied by a recommendation to be quarantined for almost two weeks. Although the specifics for the recommended time to quarantine have been changing throughout this pandemic, it is at least 10 days and 48 hours without any symptoms. It can be difficult for patients to be quarantined for such a duration of time, especially since many patients show few if any symptoms. If a patient has been diagnosed with COVID-19 but starts to feel better they may still be infected, however, and it is very possible that they are transmitting COVID-19 to others.


Viral Particles

woman sneezing with spray and small drops

As any member of the healthcare community can attest, there has been a very concerning finding that COVID-19 is passed through droplets that may stay suspended in the air. It is the main reason that physicians, and other health care workers are so commonly pictured with the n95 masks when working in the hospital. This is important for anyone if you are within a certain distance of other individuals. If someone coughs and the air is stagnant, it is possible that you can come into contact with the viral particle and thereby become infected yourself.

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One Degree of Separation

Woman putting on a protective mask

Many people are observing strict precautions to limit COVID-19 transmission. As the hospital systems have observed in these few weeks after holidays, you cannot control the other people around you. There are countless patients currently suffering from COVID-19 that have been fastidious with their health and social distancing. Their family members, however, may not have been as strict with limiting interactions with people. Unless you can control where you and your family members have been, and how appropriate everyone has been with social distancing guidelines, this can certainly increase your risk of COVID-19 transmission.

There are still many ways that you may contract COVID-19,  mostly due to lack of mask-wearing and being around other people. If you have contracted COVID-19 but cannot trace your infection to direct contact with an actively sick person, there are certainly other ways you may have become sick. With mask-wearing and vaccinations, this pandemic may be closer than ever to being over. And to get through this pandemic at your healthiest, don't miss these 35 Places You're Most Likely to Catch COVID.

Kenneth Perry, MD FACEP
Dr. Perry is an active practicing physician and Medical Director of an Emergency Department in Charleston, South Carolina. Read more about Kenneth