This Is Who 45 Percent of People Get Coronavirus From

The source of many coronavirus cases may be practically unavoidable, according to the CDC.

The coronavirus pandemic has turned what were once everyday activities into nerve-wracking propositions for many people, from grocery shopping to going to work. While coming into contact with coworkers or fellow shoppers does present an undeniable risk of coronavirus transmission, new research reveals that the most common source of new coronavirus infections hits closer to home: your family.

According to a June 30 study from the CDC, among 350 individuals with COVID-19, the most common source of coronavirus exposure—accounting for 45 percent of total exposures—was a family member. Of the study subjects, 34 percent were exposed to coronavirus-positive work colleagues, 10 percent to friends with coronavirus, and 19 percent were exposed by another unnamed source.

While the outcome of the study may not come as a shock to some, it stands in stark contrast to what was initially believed about the community spread of coronavirus when the pandemic began, when it was thought that contaminated objects and proximity to potentially-infected strangers were major sources of viral transmission. Since then, the CDC has amended its stance, noting that that contaminated objects are not considered a primary means of transmission.

Unfortunately, this may mean that spending time with members of your inner circle isn't as safe as many people expect.

mother putting mask on young daughter
Shutterstock/Tom Wang

"This data really makes you think twice before having a family gathering. Even with the best of intentions, you could be spreading the infection to family members," explains physician Leann Poston, MD, of Invigor Medical.

Poston notes that among the most difficult factors in preventing intrafamilial coronavirus spread is the proportion of people who contract coronavirus and remain asymptomatic—a number some experts say could be as high as 35 percent.

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However, Poston says that common sense measures can help keep people safe from coronavirus—and they're especially important when spending time with family members with whom you don't share a home.

"If you are planning a family gathering, wear face masks and keep a social distance, keep the number of people invited small, and if at all possible, have the gathering outside," she suggests.

For people with immediate family members in high-risk professions, Poston says there are important precautions to take to limit the spread within individual households. In addition to storing bags, shoes, and other items used at work in a separate space from other household items, "encourage them to shower and change clothes when they first get home," she says. And for more on the spread of COVID-19, This Is How Likely You Are to Get Coronavirus This Year, Doctor Says.

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Sarah Crow
Sarah Crow is a senior editor at Eat This, Not That!, where she focuses on celebrity news and health coverage. Read more
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