The Omicron BA.2.12.1 subvariant is now the dominant COVID-19 variant in the US, responsible for 58% of recorded new coronavirus cases in the last week alone. “I’m in Connecticut, and it’s like 80% of all sequences that we see right now,” says Anne Hahn, PhD., postdoctoral researcher at the Yale School of Public Health. Here are the five most dangerous spots to catch COVID-19, according to experts. Read on to find out more—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don’t miss Already Had COVID? These Symptoms May “Never Go Away”.
Indoor gatherings such as weddings and parties are still dangerous, warns the World Health Organization. “In the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, there is no ‘zero risk’ when it comes to any kind of gathering – especially events that bring groups of people together,” says the WHO. “Regardless of the size of the event, you are at risk from COVID-19 whenever you get together with people. The virus that causes COVID-19 spreads easily indoors, especially in poorly ventilated settings.”
Planning a family cruise this summer? The CDC has lifted its warning on cruise ship travel, but virus experts are still recommending caution. “This means to prepare for the cruise, all four of you should be fully vaccinated and boosted,” says Jessica Justman, infectious diseases specialist and epidemiologist at the Columbia University Irving Medical Center, who recommends travelers make sure their ship has opted into the CDC’s Covid-19 Program for Cruise Ships. “I suggest completing all booster doses a few weeks, and at least one week, before the trip starts. I would also be interested in how many inpatient beds and medical personnel are on the cruise and compare that to the number of passengers. One might confirm that the cruise follows guidelines such as the cruise ship health care guidelines from the American College of Emergency Physicians.”
Buffets are risky due to close contact with both customers and staff. “While common utensils theoretically could lead to transmission of COVID from hand to spoon to hand, we actually don’t have any good examples in clusters of COVID illnesses that surfaces really matter as much as people all standing close to each other does,” says Benjamin Chapman, Ph.D., professor and food safety specialist in the department of Agricultural and Human Sciences at North Carolina State University. “Managing social distancing and line-ups is really the hardest part. Or in situations where staff will serve patrons from a buffet, the staff and patron interaction is the riskiest part.”
Indoor gyms are still highly problematic in terms of catching the virus, experts warn. “If you’re not willing to get COVID don’t go,” says Dr. Michael Klompas, a hospital epidemiologist and infectious disease physician at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. “At a time like now, when there’s a lot of COVID around, it is a high risk proposition.”
Social distancing is practically impossible in airports, with people standing next to each other in check in and security lines and sitting close together on planes. “Avoid common-touch surfaces, hand hygiene wherever possible, masks, distancing, controlled-boarding procedures, try to avoid face-to-face contact with other customers, try to avoid being unmasked in flight, for meal and drink services, apart from when really necessary,” says David Powell, physician and medical adviser to the International Air Transport Association. “The greatest protection you can give yourself is to be vaccinated and boosted.”
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.
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