7 Germiest Public Places You Should Avoid Even After They Reopen
Gyms, pools, and restrooms were filled with germs even before the COVID-19 outbreak.
As lockdown orders start to lift in some states, not every place that reopens is technically safe. While there are certain safety precautions you can take to help protect yourself from getting the coronavirus, like wearing face masks or using gloves, some public places have always been hotspots for germs. So, if you want to remain safe during this uncertain time, these are the public places with the most germs that you'll still want to avoid for a while.
It's no secret that gyms have always been breeding grounds for germs—including staphylococcus, papillomavirus (HPV), and airborne respiratory viruses like COVID-19. And let's be honest, just because you wipe down a machine after using it, doesn't mean others are doing the same. In fact, according to a survey of more than 1,000 gym-goers, 31 percent said they don't wipe down their machines regularly. More than half said they had witnessed someone use the gym bathroom and not wash their hands afterwards. And for more ways you are making yourself more susceptible to COVID-19, check out the 15 Seemingly Innocuous Habits That Increase Coronavirus Risk.
According to WebMD, public restrooms are crawling with germs, like streptococcus, staphylococcus, E. coli, shigella bacteria, hepatitis A virus, and the common cold virus—meaning the coronavirus is probably lurking around, too. So, even if you do go out in public when things reopen, try your best to avoid using restrooms when at all possible. And for places that are starting to reopen, check out the 13 States Where You Can Now Get a Haircut.
Planes, trains, and buses are probably some of the dirtiest things you come into contact with every day, according to microbiologist Charles Gerba, who did an in-depth test with ABC News in 2006 on the cleanliness of public transportation. Amtrak trains had traces of MSRA—a bacteria that can cause skin infections—on armrests, and E. coli was found in bus and airplane bathrooms. And for more ways commuting will change, check out the 8 Things You May Never See on Public Transit Again After Coronavirus.
The amount of germs found on the handle of a gas pump is enough to make some people wish they had an electric car. Testing for germs at gas stations, Gerba found that 71 percent of fuel-pump handles had high levels of microbe contamination, which could cause illness and disease. To help you protect yourself from exposure when filling up, experts at Car and Driver recommend using gloves or window cleaning paper towels to act as a shield between your hands and the pump handle.
Don't be trotting your kids off to your local playground once it opens back up. Not only did a Home Advisor study show that playgrounds were holding an average of 3.5 million colony-forming units per square inch (which is the number of viable bacteria cells in a sample), but much of the equipment found on playgrounds is made of plastic or stainless steel. And a recent study from the New England Journal of Medicine found that plastic and stainless steel were two of the most susceptible surfaces for the coronavirus, able to hold the virus for up to three days.
Not only is cash more difficult to sanitize than your credit or debit card, but you also might not want to be visiting the ATMs you typically use to access cash right now, either. In 2019, LendEDU, a consumer comparison website, ran a test on 20 different ATMs in New York City and found that they were even more germ-infested than your average subway pole.
Public pools weren't the most most sanitary places to begin with, so it stands to reason that they won't all of a sudden become so in a post-pandemic world. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 35 percent of cases involving the parasite cryptosporidium in the past decade were linked to public swimming areas.