7 Subtle Ways You Could Get Coronavirus Without Realizing It
The coronavirus outbreak continues to spread. Here are some surprising ways you could get infected.
Even though nearly everyone is abiding by stay-at-home orders and self-quarantining, COVID-19 is still spreading at alarming rates—which just goes to show how contagious the novel coronavirus truly is. Even if you're wearing masks outside, washing your hands for 20 seconds constantly, and scrubbing your surfaces, the fact is, you could still catch the contagion. How? Well, you might be engaging in some seemingly inconspicuous behavior that puts you at risk. Here are the everyday activities that actually increase your odds of contracting the coronavirus. And for more health risks to avoid right now, check out 10 Health Risks You Can't Afford to Take Amid the Coronavirus.
Using a public restroom
If you are going outside for the necessities, you shouldn't use a public bathroom unless it's an absolute emergency. Not only is there evidence that COVID-19 can easily be spread via oral-fecal transmission, but the earliest symptoms of the coronavirus appear to be gastrointestinal. So stay safe and only use your home bathroom if at all possible.
Riding an elevator
The COVID-19 contagion can not only live on metal surfaces for three days, according to research from the National Institutes of Health, but it can also live in aerosol form for up to three hours. So going into a confined space such as an elevator, even when empty, exposes you to air that could have been coughed in or sneezed in by individuals before you. That is why the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently suggested all individuals wear masks outside their homes. And if you want to make your own mask, check out The 7 Best Materials for Making Your Own Face Mask, Backed by Science.
Riding mass transit
Speaking of confined spaces and public surfaces, mass transit systems lead the league in variables friendly to spreading the virus. 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 illnesses than those who didn't. Wearing masks and gloves goes a long way in helping you avoid contracting COVID-19 or any contagion, but if you can avoid the buses, subways, trains, and planes, please do.
Growing out your facial hair
You could be adding unnecessary risk to your health by growing out your beard, especially as it pertains to masks. "If someone has facial hair, a beard, the mask will not make a tight seal and exposes the individual to what they are trying to protect themselves from," internal medicine physician Roberto Contreras II, MD, the regional medical director of Borrego Health, previously told Best Life. "A N95 mask or surgical mask will make a better barrier if people do not have facial hair."
Having long nails
You may not realize it, but plenty of germs live under your nails. That's why the CDC recommends that hospital workers don't keep their nails long or wear artificial nails, because germs can remain beneath them even after you wash your hands.
"It's harder to get that area truly clean when washing your hands," Elizabeth Ransom, MD, chief physician executive at Baptist Health in Jacksonville, Florida, told HuffPost. "You have to be pretty diligent cleaning these areas." And for more advice like this, 8 Essential Hygiene Tips to Follow Right Now, According to Experts.
Going grocery shopping
Seeing as you want to limit your interaction with other people and avoid touching objects in public, grocery shopping is a high-risk activity in the time of coronavirus. During a COVID-19 briefing recently, Deborah Birx, MD, White House Coronavirus Task Force Chair, said, "This is the moment to not be going to the grocery store, not going to the pharmacy, but doing everything you can to keep your family and friends safe."
Going to the hospital
This may seem counterintuitive, but a recent study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine indicates that the concentration of the coronavirus lends itself to it being more contagious. That is to say, being exposed more often to COVID-19 clearly increases your risk of getting it. So not only does the warning to avoid hospitals aid in keeping health care workers in a position to treat the severely ill, it also could keep you healthy.
According to The COVID Tracking Project, over 45,000 people have been hospitalized due to the coronavirus and, as of now, over 12,000 people have died, which suggests a not-so-great survival rate for those who end up at a hospital due to COVID-19. And for more ways to protect yourself, check out these 15 Coronavirus Myths You Need to Stop Believing, According to Doctors.