When it comes to COVID-19 transmission, there are many potential hotspots, but some are hotter than others. CivicMeter asked 27 epidemiologists from across the country: What venues have the highest risk for catching COVID? Say the organizers: “Our survey focused on two top-of-mind areas: The risks associated with reopening and traveling; and COVID-19 data quality. We also asked experts who did not participate in the survey to weigh in on the final results.” These are their top five places to avoid. Read on, and to ensure your health and the health of others, don’t miss these Sure Signs You’ve Already Had Coronavirus.
Rating (on a scale of 1 to 10): 7.54
“Outdoors is better than indoors” is a cardinal rule of COVID prevention. Unless it comes to outdoor stadiums. Even though they’re in the fresh air, close seating makes social distancing impossible. “Spectators at sporting events should consider the number of COVID-19 cases both where they live and where the sporting event is taking place before deciding to attend,” the CDC says. “The higher the transmission of COVID-19 in the community, the higher the risk of transmission of COVID-19 at sporting events.”
If they’ve told us once … Since the beginning of the pandemic, health officials have been unanimous that dining indoors is a major vector for the coronavirus. Close seating, people chatting and eating without masks, and poor ventilation is on the menu more often than not for indoor restaurants. According to a September study by the CDC, people who tested positive for coronavirus were twice as likely to have eaten at a restaurant in the previous two weeks.
Both indoor theaters and houses of worship feature shoulder-to-shoulder seating, enabling attendees to easily transmit the highly contagious coronavirus just by exhaling. Realizing the risk, movie theaters around the country shut down early. Some houses of worship transitioned to virtual or outdoor services; others hosted their congregants as usual and became the source of super-spreading events. Late last year, one North Carolina church was the source of an outbreak that led to more than 200 COVID cases and 12 deaths.
A nursing home in Washington State was one of the first epicenters of COVID-19 in the US, and it’s easy to see why: Older people (who bear some of the highest risk for the disease) with depleted immune systems living in an enclosed space, potentially exposed to the virus by younger visitors and staff who might not show symptoms.
Prisons tied bars for #1 with an 8.85 rating, but the general public is having a harder time staying away from the latter. “Bars have become notorious as sources of COVID spread,” a professor of infectious diseases at Vanderbilt University Medical Center told CivicMeter. “They are almost always indoors. People are there for prolonged periods of time, very close together, they’re unmasked because they’re drinking and talking. And that’s the sine qua non for spread of a respiratory virus.” So avoid bars, and to get through this pandemic at your healthiest, don’t miss these 35 Places You’re Most Likely to Catch COVID.