These Are the Worst Coronavirus "Super Spreaders" You Need to Know

If you want to stay healthy, these are the types of gatherings you need to avoid at all costs.

By now, you've probably heard about the choir practice in Mount Vernon, Washington, that resulted in 52 of the 61 attendees contracting COVID-19, two of whom died. The event became known as a coronavirus "super spreader," in which one person infected an exceptionally high number of people. And as the world begins to reopen, it's pivotal to be aware of the kinds of activities that are putting you at the highest risk.

Sure, attending choir rehearsal may not be a common practice among the majority of Americans, but the fact is that many tempting and familiar activities are just as likely to make you sick. Your state may be opening its doors, but a little potluck here and a birthday party there could be putting you at risk. As you eagerly begin the process of moving out of quarantine, there are some activities that you still need to avoid to stay safe. To ensure the health of yourself and those you care about, here are the worst coronavirus "super spreaders" that you need to know. And for other risky businesses to steer clear of, check out 15 Seemingly Innocuous Habits That Increase Coronavirus Risk.

Birthday parties

a group of friends gathering together celebrating birthday at night, lighting candles on cake

We all used to excitedly eat some birthday cake after the guest of honor blew out their candles and breathed all over it. Suffice it to say, times are different now. With restrictions relaxing in many states and the weather allowing for outdoor celebrations, people may be more tempted to throw a birthday party. But as a group in Pasadena, California learned in early May, there's plenty of risk in doing so.

The city of Pasadena confirmed recently that a single birthday party led to the infection of nearly a dozen people. According to a press release, the gathering had been attended by "a large number of extended family members and friends" who were not wearing face coverings or practicing social distancing. One woman at the party was reportedly coughing and joking with other guests that she may have COVID-19. Lo and behold, she did. After the party, at least 10 guests were found to be infected with the coronavirus.


Bride, groom and wedding guests making a toast

Many brides- and grooms-to-be who planned on getting married in the spring or summer of 2020 have been forced to postpone their weddings. But before the severity of the coronavirus was common knowledge, weddings served as a breeding ground for virus.

On Mar. 13 in Columbus, Ohio, a wedding was given permission to proceed with 125 guests the day after the state banned gatherings of over 100 people. Family members traveled from New York for the event and one cousin even flew in from Poland.

As a result, some guests ended up fighting for their lives. The father of the groom, the mother of the groom, the mother of the bride, two uncles of the bride, an aunt of the bride, and a sister of the bride all came down with COVID-19—some of them even had to be hospitalized. And tragically, the grandmother of the bride passed away from the coronavirus, which she's expected to have contracted from the wedding.


closeup of a funeral burial

Not being able to properly say goodbye to a deceased loved one is incredibly hard, but gathering to mourn can have dire consequences. At the beginning of March, a large group of people attended a funeral in Kershaw County, South Carolina. Multiple guests wound up contracting the coronavirus and six ended up dying as a result.

In Albany, Georgia, a town in Dougherty County, a number of attendees of two funerals also became infected with the virus. These super-spreading events led to a domino effect in the community and soon, Dougherty County became a coronavirus hotspot. There have been about 1,730 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 140 deaths in the county of 88,000 people. And for the ways people are adjusting in these strange times, check out 5 Things You Never Would've Done Before the Coronavirus.

Religious services

Congregation at church praying

While some have repeatedly called for religious services to be treated as essential businesses, there are numerous incidences of these events becoming super-spreaders and leading to a large number of positive COVID-19 cases. In Sacramento County, California, a church with 3,500 members has been linked to 71 cases of the coronavirus. And in Frankfurt, Germany, a church service led to at least 107 cases in the area.

Potluck dinners

closeup of assortment of food at a potluck

In April, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported on a man in Chicago who spread the coronavirus to a wide group of people by attending two other events mentioned on this list—a birthday party and a funeral—as well as another dangerous activity: a potluck dinner.

The CDC cites eating "from common serving dishes" and touching the same utensils as one way the virus can spread. The man's activities "likely triggered a chain of transmission that included 15 other confirmed and probable cases of COVID-19 and ultimately resulted in three deaths." And for other things you shouldn't be doing as your state reopens, check out 9 Mistakes You Shouldn't Make During Reopening.

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