7 Places You Shouldn't Visit Even If They're Open
These spots may be open for business, but that doesn't mean it's a good idea to step inside.
There are so many things we all miss about life before the coronavirus pandemic turned our worlds upside down. From dinners with friends at restaurants to hugging family members we hold dear, the simplest aspects of our lives changed almost overnight. And though we're eager for things to return to normal, it's important to realize that just because a businesses are reopening, it doesn't necessarily mean it's 100 percent safe to step inside. Of course, you can't avoid the pharmacy or supermarket, but if you can help it, these are the places you should still steer clear of, even if they're open in your state. And for more things to consider amid the easing of lockdown, check out 9 Mistakes You Shouldn't Make During Reopening.
In states like Indiana, Oklahoma, and Wyoming, tattoo artists are now permitted to ink customers again. But considering you can't maintain six feet of distance between the artist and the customer, both those sitting in the hot seat and those doing the tattooing are putting themselves at risk—even if they're wearing masks and gloves.
New York City dermatologist Joshua Zeichner, MD, told Refinery29 that it's best to steer clear of body art in the age of COVID-19. "I would avoid new piercings and new tattoos to be safe," he says. Anyone who's ever gotten a tattoo also knows the process can draw blood, which could possibly transmit COVID-19, according to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
When the Ebola virus outbreak hit in 2014, bowling alleys were a topic of conversation after a doctor working with patients with the virus visited a New York bowling alley and then came down with the illness himself. The incident left many concerned about the surfaces of a shared bowling ball, which is likely to house germs. And as we now know, the coronavirus is even more deadly and contagious than Ebola.
Bowling balls aside though, bowling alleys are also a place where shoes are shared and you've likely heard by now that coronavirus droplets can exist on footwear and shoelaces. As podiatrist Thomas F. Vail, DPM, notes, "rented bowling shoes can be a host to several microorganisms." And for more germ-laden places to steer clear of, check out 7 Germiest Public Places You Should Avoid Even After They Reopen.
California governor Gavin Newsom recently identified nail salons as the source of coronavirus outbreaks in the state and labeled them "high-risk" businesses. So you may want to reconsider that manicure, even if it's allowed in your state. Though masks and gloves can help prevent the spread of the coronavirus via respiratory droplets, this is yet another practice that doesn't allow for six feet of distance. Plus, cuticle clippings and other nail treatments can potentially draw blood, which may potentially transmit the coronavirus. And if you want to know when you can safely get a mani-pedi again, check out When Will It Be Safe to Get Your Nails Done? Experts Weigh In.
You've probably heard over the years that gyms are breeding grounds for germs—including airborne respiratory viruses like COVID-19. Even if you do your best to wipe down a machine before and after using it, you're in the minority. According to a survey from Treadmill Reviews of more than 1,000 gym-goers, 31 percent said they don't wipe down their machines regularly.
"If you touch a surface where someone has sneezed, like a gym bench, and then rub your eye with your pinky finger, the virus could spread," John Zurlo, MD, Jefferson Health's division director of infectious disease, told MedicalXpress.com. And for more about all the germs on the ellipticals and in the locker room at your gym, These Are 8 of the Grossest Spots at the Gym, According to Experts.
Kids are notorious for not following the 20-second hand-washing rule when left to their own devices, so you can imagine how many germs are lurking on the monkey bars. While bacterial and viral infections like COVID-19 differ, a 2018 HomeAdvisor.com study found that areas like rock walls, baby swings, and seesaws each have nine million colony-forming units (CFUs) of bacteria per square inch. That's about 52,000 times more bacteria than your toilet seat at home. Similarly, slides have an average of six million CFUs per square inch.
"Kids racing down the slide at an outdoor playground may actually encounter around 60,000 times more bacteria than they would at the top of the slide at the local fast food joint or other indoor play area," the study notes.
When RealSimple conducted a study with NSF International Swab Testing in 2009, they swabbed common surfaces we all come into contact with often. And they found that a video game controller in an arcade contained 551 CFUs per square inch, which, while less than those aforementioned playground surfaces, is still quite alarming. It's 69 times the amount of bacteria found on a stuffed toy in a pediatrician's office!
"Any public play area for kids, with toys or a ball pit, is prone to accumulating germs and infections," pediatrician Christopher Weiss, DO, previously told USA Today. "Any public spot that lots of hands commonly grab … are likely to be dirty as well." And you can only imagine how many hands have touched that button or joy stick!
Public pools in Ohio are set to open in late May and some are already open in states like Georgia and South Carolina, but that doesn't mean you want to dive in head first. While it's believed that chlorine in the pool can kill the coronavirus, "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."
In fact, in larger cities that have seen some of the most coronavirus cases, citizens are looking at a summer sans public swimming pools entirely. The University of Chicago's chief epidemiologist Emily Landon, MD, told The Chicago Tribune, "I suspect that pools are going to be one of the last places that are going to be allowed to be open." And for the summer activities you can safely do, check out 19 Summer Hobbies You Can Still Do During Quarantine.