The 6 Most Dangerous Places You Need to Avoid This Memorial Day Weekend

The curve might be flattening and summer may be almost here, but COVID-19 is no less dangerous.

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Memorial Day weekend is upon us just as the stay-at-home guidelines are starting to lift across the country. Though the numbers are definitely improving, the COVID-19 virus is no less deadly or contagious than it was weeks ago, so you still need to be safe when you venture outside your home. Fortunately, being outdoors—while still abiding by social distancing guidelines—appears to be among the safest activities you could partake in right now. But as you plan your Memorial Day weekend activities, you should be aware of where and how you are still at risk of contracting the coronavirus.

There are a number of locations you're likely to visit during the unofficial start of summer that pose a particularly high risk of contracting the potentially deadly virus. Here are the places you need to steer clear of this Memorial Day weekend. And for more spots that aren't as safe as they seem, check out 7 "Safe" Places Where You Could Catch Coronavirus.

1
Public pools

two little girls having fun in the pool, math jokes
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According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), "there is no evidence that the virus that causes COVID-19 can be spread to people through the water in pools, hot tubs, spas, or water play areas." But while the water itself may be fine—especially if it's well-chlorinated—that does not mean a trip to the local pool is without risk.

"You have to assume that people [at the pool] are infected," Roberta Lavin, a professor of medicine at the University of Tennessee's College of Nursing, told U.S. Masters Swimming. "Anything they touch would be contaminated. It would be hard to get in and out of the pool without touching anything or interacting with another person."

Additionally, a 2009 study published in the journal Water Research found that coronaviruses in general, not COVID-19 specifically, can remain in water for anywhere from a few days to a few weeks. "Now, it is important to note that, just because virus particles are found in water, this doesn't necessarily mean that they will be active and able to cause an active infection," Jamil Abdurrahman, MD, and Idries Abdurrahman, MD, previously told Best Life. "But just the fact that a coronavirus may be able to survive in water means that it is at least possible that transmission of the virus could occur from contacting contaminated water."

2
Concession stands

couple ordering food from concession stand
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High-trafficked, densely crowded, and poorly ventilated spaces—like concession stands—are where coronavirus transmission is the highest. In fact, a study out of Japan's National Institute of Infectious Diseases, which has not yet peer reviewed, found that "the odds that a primary case transmitted COVID-19 in a closed environment was 18.7 times greater compared to an open-air environment." In short? If you are going out for the day, try to bring your own food and drinks. And for more mistakes you might be making as lockdowns end, check out 9 Mistakes You Shouldn't Make During Reopening.

3
Public restrooms

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If you are venturing outside of your home, be sure to use your bathroom before heading out the door. Public bathrooms are a place you want to avoid amid the pandemic, seeing as COVID-19 can easily be spread via the aerosolization of fecal matter when one flushes the toilet.

But that's not all. "Along with the potential exposure from people flushing toilets, you can potentially be exposed by people drying their hands," Roberto Contreras II, MD, regional medical director of Borrego Health in California, previously told Best Life. "Bacteria, viruses, etc. from their hands [gets] flung into the air with the use of many of these hand driers." Basically, it's best to hold it until you get home.

4
Grocery store checkout counters

crowded grocery store checkout line
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Stocking up on provisions for your backyard barbecue or family picnic? Just know that grocery store clerks are not only on the frontlines of the battle against this pandemic, but many are actually dying after contracting the virus, due to frequent exposure. The one place in the grocery store where people are most at risk of contracting COVID-19 is the checkout counter, according to a recent CNN report.

Instead, the best place to shop is a farmers' market, but if that's not an option for you to get your burgers, hot dogs, and watermelon, wear a mask at the grocery store and keep your distance from others, including the staff. And to be sure you're wearing your mask the right way, check out 7 Ways You're Still Wearing Your Face Mask Wrong.

5
Beach gyms

black man using beach gym
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Recent studies show that talking loudly, heavy breathing, and exercise can lead to the spread of the coronavirus, due to increased droplets in the air. So this weekend, skip the beach gym, that volleyball game, or tug-of-war. And for some summer activities you can do safely, check out 15 Summer Backyard Games to Play During Quarantine.

6
Public transportation

couple on the subway
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This isn't necessarily a Memorial Day tradition, but a lot of urban dwellers need to ride public transit to get to parks and beaches. Turns out that mass transit systems lead the league in variables friendly to spreading germs. In fact, a 2011 study published in the journal BMC Infectious Diseases showed that those who took mass transit were six times more likely to contract a respiratory illness than those who didn't. So if you can get to your outdoor activity and avoid the buses, subways, and trains, please do.

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