The 7 Most Dangerous Spots You Can Catch Coronavirus

The curve may be flattening, but there are still high risk locations where COVID lurks.

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Stay-at-home guidelines might be lifting in a few places, but a number of states are still seeing an increase in coronavirus cases. Even if you're thoroughly washing your hands, maintaining six feet of distance from others, and scrubbing your surfaces daily, the fact is that your risk of contracting COVID-19 is still significant. There are a number of everyday locations that pose a particularly high risk of contracting the potentially deadly virus. Here are the places that could increase your odds of contracting COVID-19. And for more risks to avoid right now, check out 10 Health Risks You Can't Afford to Take Amid the Coronavirus.

1
Inside an elevator

 Work colleagues stand waiting together in an elevator at their office
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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 poorly ventilated, crowded, confined spaces—like elevators—are a COVID-19 outbreak waiting to happen. Even if you're riding in an empty elevator, you're exposed to air that could have been coughed in or sneezed in by infected individuals just before you. That is why the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suggests all individuals should wear masks outside of 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.

2
At the grocery store checkout counter

crowded grocery store checkout line
Shutterstock/Photobac

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. It turns out that 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. So wear gloves and a mask at the grocery store and keep your distance from others, including the staff.

3
Riding on airplanes

a flight attendant walks down the aisle of a crowded airplane
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As we previously mentioned, the conditions most conducive to the spread of COVID-19 are unventilated and crowded spaces. A recent study out of Japan, from the country's National Institute of Infectious Diseases, found that the odds that a primary case of COVID-19 was transmitted in a closed environment was nearly 19 times greater compared to an open-air environment. The research has not yet been peer-reviewed, but we can all agree that there is no space more confined than an airplane. Flying has almost always come with the worry of catching someone else's germs, and the same concern holds true for the coronavirus. And for more ways air travel is changing amid the pandemic, check out 13 Things You May Never See on Airplanes Again After Coronavirus.

4
Taking crowded subways and buses

crowded subway car full of people
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Speaking of confined spaces and travel, 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. 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, and trains, please do.

5
Going to a public restrooms

modern public toilet sign on the cement wall
Shutterstock

If you are venturing outside of your home, please be sure to use your bathroom before heading out the door. Public bathrooms are another place you want to avoid amid the pandemic, seeing as COVID-19 can easily be spread via oral-fecal transmission and some of the earliest coronavirus symptoms appear to be gastrointestinal.

6
Visiting hospitals

hospital hallway supplement industry
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Hear us out on this one. According to recent research published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, the concentration of the coronavirus lends itself to it being more contagious. So, similar to the situation with grocery store clerks, being exposed more often to COVID-19 increases your risk of getting it. The reason why health officials are warning the public to avoid hospitals unless absolutely necessary is twofold: 1) It avoids overloading hospitals so that health care workers are in a position to treat the severely ill, and 2) It helps you avoid getting infected if you do not have COVID-19.

7
Staying too close to a family member with COVID-19

white woman looking uncomfortable while sharing coffee with white man on couch
iStock

A recent study out of China, which has not yet been peer-reviewed, looked at 318 COVID-19 outbreaks in the country in which there were three or more cases identified. The researchers found that homes were "the dominant category," with 254 of the 318 outbreaks stemming from houses. (The other categories were transport, food, entertainment, shopping, and "other.") So if a roommate or family member in your home has COVID-19 symptoms and/or tests positive, be sure that they're isolating themselves from everyone else. And fore more COVID-19 info to know, check out 25 Coronavirus Facts You Should Know by Now.

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