The United States is currently in the throes the COVID-19 pandemic, with new mutations proving more transmissible—and more deadly. While the vaccine is being rolled out, offering some hope that normalcy will be restored in the future, preventing the spread of infection is now more crucial than ever. “In general, the more closely you interact with others and the longer that interaction, the higher the risk of COVID-19 spread,” warns the CDC. Over the last year, they have offered guidance on how to protect yourself and others from COVID-19, warning about places where you are more prone to infection. Read on—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had Coronavirus.
The CDC Says There is “Risk” Eating Inside of Restaurants
While the majority of people enjoy indoor dining, the CDC warns it can promote transmission. On their website they cite a recent study finding that adults with positive COVID-19 test results were twice as likely to have reported dining at a restaurant than those with negative COVID-19 test results. They also list a variety of reasons why indoor dining can increase your risk of getting and spreading the virus. These include the fact that restaurants host people from different households gathering in the same space, that eating and drinking involves removing your masks, and ventilation can cause droplets to spread more than six feet. “Poor ventilation can also increase risk as it may cause the virus to accumulate in the air,” they add. The safest way to support your local restaurant? Order takeout and enjoy your food in the safety of your own home.
Bars and Clubs Can Be Risky Because it’s “More Difficult” to Practice Safety Measures
Bars and nightclubs are also conducive to virus spread for many of the same reasons as indoor dining. “Physical distancing of at least 6 feet is often difficult to maintain in restaurants and bars,” the CDC explains, adding that people also have to speak louder in these types of places, contributing to the production of more virus aerosols. “Use of alcohol may alter judgment and make it more difficult for people to practice COVID-19 safety measures,” they also point out.
The CDC Says COVID-19 Has Been Shown to Spread in Gyms
The CDC maintains that “exercising and physical activity are important for physical and mental health and should be continued for healthy living, especially during the coronavirus crisis.” However, they point out that “COVID-19 has been shown to spread at gyms, fitness classes, and studios.” If you do decide to exercise in a group environment, they offer several tips to minimize your chance of infection. These include wearing a mask, social distancing, disinfecting equipment before and after each use, and making sure the center offers ample ventilation. Also, keep workout as brief as possible and avoid entering a gym during peak hours to minimize exposure."
The CDC Says Playgrounds Can Be “Hard to Keep Safe”
While children aren’t as prone to severe infection as adults, they are perfectly capable of spreading the virus. “Carefully consider use of playgrounds, and help children follow guidelines,” write the CDC. “In communities where there is ongoing spread of COVID-19, playgrounds can be hard to keep safe,” they point out, listing reasons ranging from the number of people there to the difficulty of keeping surfaces disinfecting. “SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, can spread when young children touch contaminated objects, and then touch their eyes, nose, or mouth,” they remind us.
The CDC Says Events and Gatherings Have Risk
While the CDC breaks down events into various categories—ranging from weddings and funerals to holiday celebrations—any situation that takes place indoors and involves a large group of people has potential for spread. They offer a variety of ways to make events and gatherings as safe as possible, including hosting them outdoors instead of in, wearing masks, social distancing, and even bringing your own food and utensils.
The CDC Says Sporting Events Greaten Your “Risk”
“The more people someone interacts with, the closer, the longer, and the more frequent the interaction, and the more contact with frequently touched surfaces, the higher the risk of COVID-19 spread. Indoor events pose a greater risk than outdoor events,” the CDC explains. “The greater the number of sporting events someone attends, the greater the risk of COVID-19 spread.” That being said, ultimately the risk of COVID-19 will range by the type of event, how they participate, where it is held, and the infection rate in the community. The highest risk situations are events held in a “confined, poorly ventilated indoor space,” where attendees do not wear masks, yell, chant, and sing without masks, do not stay at least six feet away from people they do not live with, travel from outside the area to attend the event, freely share their food and personal items (e.g., noisemakers) with people they don’t live with, and when the sports program “has no modifications or messaging in place to prevent or reduce the spread of COVID-19.”
The CDC Warns Against Going to Other People’s Houses
In the fall, CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield revealed that small gatherings were “an increasing threat” and responsible for a great deal of COVID infections. "In the public square, we're seeing a higher degree of vigilance and mitigation steps in many jurisdictions," he said during a call with the nation's governors, stressing the “vigilance” of mitigation steps in the household setting.
The CDC Says You Can Spread COVID on Public Transportation
Whether you are traveling by train, bus, airplane, or rideshare, any time you are inside with others there is risk involved. “Travel can increase your chance of spreading and getting COVID-19. Postponing travel and staying home is the best way to protect yourself and others from COVID-19,” the CDC says. “You and your travel companions (including children) may feel well and not have any symptoms, but you can still spread COVID-19 to family, friends, and community after travel.” One of the reasons travel is risky is because it is almost impossible to socially distance in these types of situations. “The safest thing to do is to stay home,” they urge. However, they do detail the safest ways to travel if it can’t be avoided.
The CDC Says “Avoid” Cruise Ships
Early in the pandemic, cruise ships were the sight of many superspreader events. Cruises were halted for a time, but now many are sailing the seas once again. However, the CDC urges you to avoid traveling this way. “CDC recommends that all people avoid travel on cruise ships, including river cruises, worldwide,” they state. “That’s because the chance of getting COVID-19 on cruise ships is high since the virus appears to spread more easily between people in close quarters aboard ships.”
The CDC Says Religious Services “Present a Risk”
While group worship is an important part of many people’s lives, religious services and places of worship have been linked to major outbreaks across the globe. “For many faith traditions, gathering together for worship is at the heart of what it means to be a community of faith. But as Americans are now aware, gatherings present a risk for increasing spread of COVID-19,” they point out on their website. As with other types of group events and gatherings, they suggest hosting them outdoors whenever possible, mask wearing, social distancing, and limiting the sharing of objects.
How to Survive This Pandemic
As for yourself, follow Dr. Anthony Fauci and the CDC’s fundamentals and help end this surge, no matter where you live—wear a face mask, social distance, avoid large crowds, don't go indoors with people you're not sheltering with (especially in bars), practice good hand hygiene, get vaccinated when it becomes available to you, 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.