The CDC Director Says to Avoid These Places Even If They're Open

These locations should be off limits, according to the nation's medical chief.

Even though some COVID numbers are headed in the right direction, Rochelle Walensky, MD, the newly appointed director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), is warning Americans to still proceed with caution. "Despite some encouraging trends in COVID-19 cases and hospital admissions, the occurrence of COVID-19 remains extraordinarily high in the United States," she said at a White House press briefing on Jan. 29. Walensky explained that due to the discovery of two new strains of COVID-19 this week (one from Brazil and another from South Africa) and the increasing number of U.K. strain cases reported, it's time to be extra vigilant—and that means certain places should be off limits, the CDC chief said. Read on to find out where you shouldn't go, and if you need some good news, check out Dr. Fauci Finally Has Some "Very Encouraging" News About COVID.

"I feel compelled to underscore for you the need for each of us to remain steadfast in our commitment to taking all of the appropriate steps to protect ourselves and our communities," Walensky said. And one very important step, according to the CDC director, is steering clear of one kind of place in particular: "Avoid crowds and poorly ventilated spaces," she said plainly.

"There is growing evidence that droplets and airborne particles can remain suspended in the air and be breathed in by others and travel distances beyond 6 feet (for example, during choir practice, in restaurants, or in fitness classes)," the CDC warned in September. "In general, indoor environments without good ventilation increase this risk."

Read on to find out what else the new CDC chief says to do and what not to do as these new variants start to spread. And for more on the latest news about the vaccine, check out If You're Over 65, You Shouldn't Get This New Vaccine, Experts Warn.

Don't travel.

Shot of a young woman using a smartphone and wearing a mask while traveling
PeopleImages / iStock

"Now is not the time to travel," Walensky cautioned. "If you choose to travel, please follow the CDC guidelines and be aware that you must wear a mask as you travel."

Her warning follows the CDC's mandate, which went into effect on Jan. 26, that all air travelers entering the United States from abroad (including citizens) are required to test negative for COVID-19 within three days prior to their flight.

As a result, the U.S. State Department issued a serious warning this week that all non-essential international travel should be avoided amid COVID. "The Department of State is committed to helping U.S. citizens overseas who find themselves in dire situations, but that assistance is likely to be limited," Ian Brownlee, Bureau of Consular Affairs Acting Assistant Secretary at the U.S. State Department, said during a Jan. 26 press briefing. "Our main message to U.S. citizens considering travel abroad remains the same: Seriously reconsider going overseas right now. If you're overseas right now, it's going to be harder to come home for a while." And for more COVID news sent right to your inbox, sign up for our daily newsletter.

Wear a mask.

Man wearing a mask

Of course, as the CDC has been recommending for the past 11 months, Walensky bluntly told Americans: "Wear a mask." This is in line with the executive order President Joe Biden signed during his first week in office, making mask mandatory in airports and on trains, planes, buses, and maritime vessels. And for the masks Walensky's agency says to avoid, check out The CDC Warns Against Using These 6 Face Masks.

Stay six feet apart.

Three coworkers sit about six feet apart from each other on a couch in their office.

Walensky also reiterated the CDC's official advice, asking people to stay six feet apart from one another when they're together. "Limiting close face-to-face contact with others is the best way to reduce the spread of coronavirus disease 2019," the CDC advises. "Social distancing, also called 'physical distancing,' means keeping a safe space between yourself and other people who are not from your household." And for a safety measure you have permission to ditch, check out The One Thing You Can Stop Doing to Avoid COVID, CDC Says.

Get vaccinated.

Close up of a mature man taking a vaccine in his doctors office

Walensky's final point was the one that offers the best long-term solution to the pandemic. "When it's your turn, please roll up your sleeve and get vaccinated," she said.

Her colleague, White House COVID adviser Anthony Fauci, MD, reiterated this point at the press briefing, saying that vaccinations both protect you as an individual and also lessen the likelihood of new strains emerging. "The fundamental principle of getting people vaccinated as quickly and as efficiently as you possibly can, will always be the best way to prevent the further evolution of any mutant," he said. "Because when you do that, you prevent replication and replication is essential for mutation." And for more on the latest news regarding vaccinations, check out why Dr. Fauci Says Doing This After Getting Vaccinated Is a Huge Mistake.

John Quinn
John Quinn is a London-based writer and editor who specializes in lifestyle topics. Read more
Filed Under