If Your Family Does This, You're 18 Times More Likely to Get Coronavirus

It may seem harmless, but this dangerous habit is putting your family at risk, a new study says.

In many ways, the novel coronavirus has turned our daily lives into an apocalyptic horror film, leading many of us to take refuge in our homes. But a new study suggests that the majority of epidemic growth of the virus can be traced back to those seemingly safe havens—spread by none other than our very own family members. In fact, the new research found that families who tend to spend time together physically, by eating meals together and watching TV together, are 18 times more like to spread coronavirus to their nearest and dearest.

The report, which was published in BMJ Global Health, analyzed the characteristics and practices of primary cases within households to determine how frequently those individuals passed coronavirus on to their family members. After collecting data on hygiene habits, rates of in-home mask wearing, and social distancing within the home, one shocking statistic stood out: People were 18 times more likely to catch coronavirus when they had "frequent daily close contact with the primary case."

So what does that actually mean? The report explains that most transmission took place while the primary patients were pre-symptomatic, meaning before their family members could have known that anyone in their household was sick. Common habits like eating dinner as a family or watching TV together were determined to be the key risk factors triggering that astonishingly high rate of transmission, due to the fact that these activities often bring people within three feet of one another.

That said, if you've been home with your family during the coronavirus pandemic, you're not fated to contract the virus. The study found that wearing face masks around family members, keeping more physical distance between you, and regularly sanitizing the home can all be effective strategies in keeping everyone safe. Thankfully, exercising these precautions within the household can significantly reduce the rate of transmission, so you can keep doing your part to stay safe and curb the spread. And for more tips for staying safe, check out 9 Mistakes You Shouldn't Make During Reopening.

Lauren Gray
Lauren Gray is a New York-based writer, editor, and consultant. Read more
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