Just because the COVID-19 vaccine is here and currently being administered across the country, doesn’t mean we are anywhere near herd immunity. Until enough of the population is vaccinated against the highly infectious and deadly virus, it is still particularly crucial to take preventative measures against infections—especially now that new, more transmissible variants are being identified in the United States. One way to flatten the COVID curve is to avoid specific places where the virus is much more likely to spread. Neysa P. Ernst, RN, MSN, the nurse manager of the Johns Hopkins Biocontainment Unit, reveals to Eat This, Not That! Health a list of places you should avoid even if they are open. Read on to find out where—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don’t miss these Sure Signs You’ve Already Had Coronavirus.
Since the start of the pandemic, health experts have expressed serious concern about the potential spread of COVID-19 at “what you remember fondly as a smoky, cozy and quaint (dive) bar,” says Ernst. “The investment in ventilation probably isn’t there and the generous consumption of alcohol will remove any social distancing, projected speaking or masking intentions you might have started out with.”
Coffee Shops Have Risk
Another one of your favorite haunts that should be off limits until after the pandemic? “Quaint, cozy, small, crowded coffee shops,” says Ernst. “Yes really. You relax, take off your mask and inhale that frappuccino,” she says. Instead, consider taking your drink to go or sitting at a socially distanced table outdoors.
Places of Worship Can Be Risky
While prayer and worship is an important part of life for many, doing so in an indoor, group setting is putting your life at risk. “Churches or worship centers who do not have a COVID restriction plan in place,” are risky, says Ernst. “You can live stream your prayers to end this pandemic,” she points out.
Use Caution at Political Rallies
No matter what side of the spectrum you are on, “any political gathering where attendees ignore social distancing and masks,” is putting lives at risk, says Ernst.
Stores…At Certain Times…Can Be Dangerous
Any retail outlets—including grocery stores, clothes, and drug stores—are much riskier at peak shopping times than others. If you do have to go shopping, consider doing so at a time when stores are not packed.
Gyms…with Exceptions…Can Put You at Risk
Exercise is a fundamental part of health. However, during the pandemic, gyms have been considered risky for a variety of reasons. Avoid any gyms “without a COVID restriction plan in place,” says Ernst. “At Rockwell Gym, where I am a member, the staff will not let you enter without a symptom check and they all politely and firmly enforce social distancing and masking. And everyone sanitizes what they touch.” If your gym doesn’t practice the recommended fundamentals, run out as fast as you can.
The Airport is a No-Go
While you might be dying to get away this spring, you should try and hold off. Ernst points out that airports are going to be particularly risky this spring. “Travel spreads COVID and worse the new variants,” she says. “Stay home, mask up and get a vaccine this year so that next year we can all go on vacation.”
RELATED: If You Feel This, You May Have Already Had COVID, Says Dr. Fauci
Do Your Part to Save Us All
So follow Dr. Anthony Fauci’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.