31 places you’re most likely to catch COVID-19

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Dr Neeraj Tulara
Dr Neeraj Tulara
Dr Neeraj Kumar Tulara is currently practicing in Mumbai as an Infectious Disease Physician in Dr L H Hiranandani Hospital. He has completed his graduation from SMS Medical College, Jaipur, and Post Graduation from Jaslok Hospital, Mumbai. He has been associated with various multispecialty hospitals like Jaslok Hospital as an ICU-Intensivist, Nanavati Hospital as Head Critical care and Consultant Physician, Holy Family Hospital as a Consultant Intensivist and now with Hiranandani Hospital as a Senior Consultant Physician and ID Specialist. He has done his post graduate Diploma in Infectious Diseases from South Wales University, Australia. He is a life member of various medical societies like IDSA, ESICM, IMA, ISICM, ASI, API, CSI, ISID, etc. He is a medical Licensing examiner of seafarers and class 2 pilots in India. He has many publications in national and international Journals in his name. He has been a Faculty in many National and International Forums. He has been associated with many journals as an editor including One of the prestigious Annals of Internal Medicine.

The states in India are in various stages of the lifting of lockdowns but it is important for the individuals to take care of themselves and avoid going to the places which are most likely to catch COVID-19.

Here is a list of  31 places you’re most likely to catch COVID — ranked from least to most risky — so you can better understand the risk associated with your activities.

Taking a walk – A study published in Physics of Fluids analyzed respiratory droplets from sneezes and coughs. The study found that a human cough can expel droplets from 10 to 250 meters per second. If you’re planning to take a relaxing walk, try to choose a path that’s not very crowded and always practice social distancing.

Hiking – When you venture outdoors, try to only spend time with people within your household,” warns the American Hiking Society.

Outdoor parks –  The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suggests considering visiting the state park at off-times and heading to attractions that aren’t as popular.

Vegetable market – your risk for spreading COVID-19 at a farmer’s market is only low if your local government enforces the proper protocol for vendors.

Shopping markets – If you plan to visit your local downtown area, wear a mask and attempt to social distance as much as possible. Try to visit the area at a time that’s less crowded, such as a weekday afternoon.

Grocery store – “Going to a market briefly, for five minutes or a transient encounter while you walk or run past someone, those are low risks,” according to Dr. Muge Cevik, MD, MSc, MRCP(UK) from the University of St. Andrews. When visiting a grocery store, grab what you need and head out so you don’t spend additional risky time in a crowd.

Take away food –  If you’re waiting in line for to-go food inside a restaurant and close to several people, it can be dangerous for virus spread, according to the CDC.

Schools – While some schools were hesitant to open in the fall, according to health experts and multiple studies, transmission in schools isn’t likely.

Garden and playgrounds – “Avoid crowded parks, wear a mask as feasible, and stay home if you are sick,” is the advice provided by the CDC in regards to visiting playgrounds and local parks.

Swimming – “There is no evidence that COVID-19 can spread to people through the water used in pools, hot tubs, or water playgrounds,” according to the CDC. While you don’t need to worry about the water in a public pool, a crowded pool may be an issue — especially since you can’t exactly wear a mask while swimming

Doctor’s clinic or Hospitals – Most doctor’s offices are still encouraging virtual appointments, but there may be some instances when you need to see your doctor face-to-face. Your doctor’s office is likely to be implementing strict regulations, including wearing a mask and social distancing from other patients.

Public Library and Art Museum – Libraries are prepared to see a “potential increase in that online traffic and the interest in some of these online support services,” according to Catherine Rasberry, Ph.D. from the CDC’s Division of Adolescent and School Health

Retail shopping – When you shop in a retail store, it’s best to grab what you need efficiently to reduce potential exposure. Luckily, shopping online is incredibly easy and convenient.

Hosting an event outdoors – Before planning a get-together at your house, you should review your local and state COVID-19 guidelines, consider your risk for severe illness, and consider your household members’ risk for severe illness, the CDC suggests.

Air travel – Air travel requires spending time in security lines and airport terminals, which can bring you in close contact with other people and frequently touched surfaces,” the CDC states. If you have no choice but to travel by air, keep your hands clean and away from your mouth, wear a mask, and social distance whenever possible.

Haircut, Saloon, and Spa – Getting a haircut is actually fairly safe if both you and your stylist are masked up. One highly cited CDC study surrounding two symptomatic infected stylists found that out of the 130-plus clients who were exposed, zero additional cases were reported.

Theme park – The CDC warns you’re at the highest risk for contracting COVID-19 if “park operations are open at full capacity with no modifications to allow for social distancing.” If you’re planning to head to a theme park, analyze the park’s guidelines first to ensure you feel comfortable with the risk you’re taking. Also, try and stay outdoors, because as Dr. Fauci reiterates time and again, “outdoors is better than indoors.”

Playing Team sport – While team sports can be safe if everyone practices the recommended safety procedures, studies have found that risks increase before and after the game when teammates congregate in locker rooms. Also, keep in mind that the outdoors is always safer than indoors, so try and keep the game outside if possible.

Attending a sporting event – “Avoid using restroom facilities or concession areas at high traffic times, such as intermission, half-time, or immediately at the end of the event,” the CDC recommends.

Gym – “Place handwashing stations or hand sanitizers with at least 60% alcohol in multiple locations throughout the workplace for workers and patrons,” the CDC recommends. However, if your gym is crowded and the proper protocol doesn’t seem to be in place, consider working out at home to lower your risk.

Checking in a hotel –  If you travel to an area with a high transmission rate, you’re putting yourself at higher risk for contracting the virus than if you stay in your hometown. Also, keep in mind that hotels are filled with people from all over the country.

House of Worship – If your church or temple is open for in-person services, it’s not a safe place to be unless capacity is limited, social distancing is enforced, and all attendees wear face masks. Even then, there is a risk.

Eating indoors at a restaurant – While eating and drinking people are forced to take off their masks. And, in an indoor environment, the virus can spread more easily than outdoors. Play it safe: sit outside or simply get takeout.

Eating a Buffet – The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has set strict guidelines for buffets and it “recommends frequent washing and sanitizing of all food contact surfaces and utensils.” However, if you’re worried about coronavirus, it may be best to skip a buffet-style restaurant for a while.

Going on a trip with friends and family – Your risk increases even more based on other factors, including where your group is traveling to and from, how you are getting there, where you are staying, and whether you are residing together. In short, save your vacation days until after the pandemic.

Dinner inside a friend’s house – It’s easy to assume that hanging out with a small group of friends at someone’s house is safe. However, the two most important elements to stop the transmission of COVID-19 are wearing a mask and social distancing, according to the CDC.

Working in an office – While most people miss seeing their coworkers in the flesh, health experts — including Dr. Anthony Fauci — don’t endorse returning to business as usual unless you have to.

Going to a wedding – “The higher the level of community transmission in the area that the gathering is being held, the higher the risk of COVID-19 spreading during a gathering,” the CDC warns. Unless the wedding is on Zoom, you should probably decline the invite.

Hugging a friend –  If you’re dying for a hug from a friend or family member, Dr. Todd Ellerin, MD from South Shore Hospital recommends you first consider the person involved, the place you’re planning to hug, and the space you’ll have. Only hug a person you know isn’t sick or wasn’t exposed to the virus and try to initiate the contact while outside and not around other people.

Visiting your local Bar – Coronavirus is more easily transmitted at a bar when “seating capacity is not reduced and tables not spaced at least 6 feet apart,” according to the CDC. In fact, when asked about the riskiest places during the pandemic, health experts are pretty unanimous that bars should be a no-no.

Hanging with a sick person – Have plans with a friend or family member who isn’t feeling 100%? Cancel. COVID-19 symptoms are varied and may include a headache, fever, runny nose, nausea, or fatigue, according to the CDC.

Visiting Hospital is much safer than many other activities you do. Do visit the hospital if you need to, hospitals are much safer places since they follow all safety protocols.


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