This Is Where You're Most Likely to Get COVID Right Now, White House Says

A White House Coronavirus Task Force official says going here puts you at risk.

For months, medical experts have made it clear that avoiding crowded places—especially indoor crowded places—is key to keeping yourself safe from the coronavirus. But as the U.S. continues to see new cases mount in a record-breaking surge, health officials are now saying that it's not just large get-togethers or events that are high risk. In fact, White House Coronavirus Task Force coordinator Deborah Birx, MD, says that small indoor gatherings without masks are where you're most likely to get COVID during this phase of the pandemic. Read on to find out how you can avoid putting yourself in danger, and for more on risky places to steer clear of, check out Dr. Fauci Says These 2 Places Need to Close Right Now.

While appearing via video conference at The Wall Street Journal's CEO Council Summit on Dec. 8, Birx expressed concern that the recent spike in cases has come as the result of the public not taking intimate gatherings as seriously as large public events. Unfortunately, such meetups are often also instances in which people aren't following basic safety measures due to their comfort level, making them particularly risky as a result.

"We're seeing transmission moving from public spaces into private spaces as people gather unmasked," Birx said. "So we know masks work, physical distancing works, but if we don't change how we gather, we'll continue to have this surge across the country."

Birx also pointed out that the current surge isn't even yet showing the full effects of the anticipated Thanksgiving spike, noting that the true impact won't be felt for another week to 10 days. She reminded the public to remain aware of "how much asymptomatic spread there is," warning that "you can't tell if your grandchild, your nephew, your niece is infected or not."

But there are other seemingly innocuous activities that are causing COVID to spread, too. Read on to find out which everyday situations could be putting you at risk, and for more on how the pandemic is affecting your area, find out How Bad the COVID Outbreak Is in Your State.

Read the original article on Best Life.


man and woman in car
Dmytro Zinkevych /Shutterstock

Carpooling can be an especially efficient and eco-friendly way to get around town. But the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has warned that the airtight close quarters of a car can put you at a higher risk of spreading or contracting COVID. This is especially true if the passengers in your vehicle have been in close contact—meaning within six feet for more than 15 minutes—with a lot of other people.

It also means that school groups or youth sports teams can create a high level of exposure potential, for example. "Close contact between individuals off the field in locker rooms, buses and carpools, in the stands, and in parking lots has led—and will continue to lead—to transmission events," notes the PolicyLab at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia.

Timothy McDonald, public health director in the Boston suburb of Needham, told The Washington Post in mid-November: "If your son or daughter is playing on a town soccer team and a travel soccer team, plus lacrosse, and is also on an ice hockey team, they're exposed and in close proximity to dozens of other kids. Instead of counting the contacts on single digits, it's now getting to two or three dozen in some cases. And those are only people who are defined as close contacts."

House parties or gatherings

group of friends surprises a woman with a birthday cake

The arrival of winter and the return of cold weather is something that medical experts have long warned would move get-togethers back indoors and thus, increase the risk of COVID transmission. Medical experts continue to warn that even though you may know everyone in attendance, it's impossible to know the full scope of everyone they've been in contact with, making any indoor gathering or party at a friend or family member's house a potential source of a COVID outbreak.

"What worries me are the holiday festivities ahead of us," Leo Nissola, MD, wrote in an earlier article for Best Life. "People will inevitably gather indoors, socialize with groups of people, and, unfortunately, fail to practice safety measures like physically distancing and wearing masks. … Attending indoor gatherings is just simply a bad idea." And for more on how the virus is spreading, check out Dr. Fauci Says This One Thing Could Spread COVID More Than Anything Yet.

Out-of-school socialization

two young boys playing on monkey bars

Acclimating kids to the realities of pandemic life has been difficult for parents nationwide. Unfortunately, increasing the amount of time young kids and teenagers spend together outside of school during playdates or sleepovers, where vital safety measures are not monitored or upheld, has led to several notable outbreaks of the disease.

One such event includes a 20-person high school slumber party in Rhode Island earlier this fall that led to five infections and forced hundreds more to go into quarantine. "Because a couple kids decided to have a big sleepover, the lives of hundreds of Rhode Islanders have been totally disrupted," Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo said in October. "Parents, we can't let that happen. I know it's normal. My kids love sleepovers too. It cannot happen."

But there are still ways to avoid exposure without keeping kids fully separated from their best friends: try turning their playdates into virtual events, or invite schoolmates to play video games online instead.

Dinner parties

smiling girlfriends at a dinner party with wine

Gathering to eat indoors has proven to be a particularly tricky health risk for the restaurant industry to navigate, since the act of eating makes it impossible to wear a mask. While some people have avoided bars and restaurants as a result, they've instead turned to hosting their own dinner parties. But in their own homes or the homes of those they feel comfortable with, many people are less likely to stick to basic safety precautions, like wearing masks and limiting the number of friends they gather with, meaning the potential for a spreading event becomes more likely.

"We've all gotten used to our bubbles, but I don't think we've really asked whether someone who's in our bubble is also in another person's bubble," Nirav Shah, MD, director of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention in Maine, told The Washington Post. "People's bubbles are getting big enough to burst." And for more news on the latest with the COVID vaccine, check out These 3 Groups Should Get Vaccinated Next, White House Official Says.

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.
Zachary Mack
Zach is a freelance writer specializing in beer, wine, food, spirits, and travel. He is based in Manhattan. Read more
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