You're More Likely to Catch COVID in This Surprising Place, Study Finds

A new study is raising awareness about this risky environment amid coronavirus.

Coronavirus numbers in the United States are rising day by day. And since the general public may still have to wait months for a vaccine, you need to remain cautious about what you do and where you go to avoid catching the virus. A new study has found that even just walking through one kind of space can make you more likely to get COVID: a narrow, enclosed hallway. Read on to find out why your coronavirus risk is higher here, and for more on COVID's spread, This Is the Person Who Is Most Likely to Give You COVID, Study Finds.

The study, published Dec. 15 in the Psychics of Fluids journal, was conducted so that researchers could "analyze the dispersion of cough-generated droplets in the wake of a walking person for different space sizes."

Using simulated airflow, researchers found that six feet of distance may not actually be far enough, depending on the shape of a space. They found that infected particles can be left behind by moving people in a "cloud of droplets." And when a person coughs in a narrow, enclosed corridor, this cloud is left behind and becomes concentrated—making it more dangerous for those who subsequently walk through it than it would in a larger, open air space.

"This poses a great challenge on determining the safe distance for places with high space constraint, [such as] in a very narrow corridor—as a person may still inhale viral droplets even if the patient is far in front of him or her," the study stated.

Spaces such as narrow school hallways, enclosed airport boarding zones, and office corridors can pose a higher risk for COVID spread, Inverse reports.

"A slight difference in the airflow can significantly alter the virus spreading pattern in the air," study co-author Xiaolei Yang, PhD, a researcher at the Institute of Mechanics at the Chinese Academy of Sciences, told Inverse. "You should wear a face mask even if you cannot see people around."

Of course, walking through a narrow hallway isn't the only way you're putting yourself at a higher risk of contracting COVID. For more ways you may be increasing your risk, keep reading, and for on the future of the pandemic, Here's When the COVID Vaccine Is Coming to Your Local Pharmacy.

1
Attending household gatherings

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New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo presented contact tracing data on Dec. 11, reporting that 74 percent of COVID cases from September to November resulted from private gatherings in people's homes. This was 10 times higher than what the data found to be the second-highest driver of COVID cases, healthcare delivery. And if you're worried you're sick, This Surprising Body Part Can Determine If You Have COVID, Study Says.

2
Spending time with your spouse

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A meta-analysis out of the University of Florida, which was published in the journal JAMA Network Open on Dec. 14, reviewed 54 studies that spanned 20 countries and nearly 78,000 subjects. In the review, researchers concluded that spouses were responsible for transmission in nearly 38 percent of cases. And for more up-to-date information, sign up for our daily newsletter.

3
Driving with the windows up

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A study published in the Science Advances journal on Dec. 4 had researchers use computer models to simulate airflow inside a car that was loosely based on a Toyota Prius with various combinations of windows opened and closed. They found that the combination that led to the highest COVID risk was having all four windows closed while more than one person was in the car. And for more coronavirus concerns, This One Common Item in Your House Could Be Spreading COVID, Study Finds.

4
Eating at restaurants

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Dining in may be allowed in many states, but that doesn't mean it's safe. A study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) published on Sept. 11 found that "adults with positive SARS-CoV-2 test results were approximately twice as likely to have reported dining at a restaurant than were those with negative SARS-CoV-2 test results." And for more coronavirus news, If You Have This Blood Type, You're at a High Risk of Severe COVID.

Best Life is constantly monitoring the latest news as it relates to COVID-19 in order to keep you healthy, safe, and informed. Here are the answers to your most burning questions, the ways you can stay safe and healthy, the facts you need to know, the risks you should avoid, the myths you need to ignore,and the symptoms to be aware of. Click here for all of our COVID-19 coverage, and sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.
Kali Coleman
Kali is an assistant editor at Best Life. Read more
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