94 Percent of COVID Experts Still Won't Go Here, Survey Says

We've come a long way since sanitizing groceries, but there's one place experts say is still risky.

As the vaccination rate increases and COVID-19 case numbers continue to drop across the U.S., life is ever so slowly beginning to go back to looking like it did before the pandemic. But while the idea of sanitizing groceries may seem like a distant memory more than a year after the novel coronavirus first began to spread, there are some activities and places that continue to carry significant risk. And according to a new survey of epidemiologists conducted by The New York Times, there is still one place where the vast majority of virus experts won't go.

The informal survey included responses from 723 epidemiologists from across the U.S. to gauge how they were approaching daily activities in the post-vaccination phase of the pandemic. Their responses show a cautiously optimistic outlook on the trajectory of the virus, with only a few places and activities they largely consider to be dangerous.

"Vaccines have given me freedom," Dianne Neumark-Sztainer, PhD, who leads the epidemiology division at the University of Minnesota, told The Times. "I was very strict all year but am now returning, slowly, to life."

Expectedly, the idea of completely forgoing safety measures was far from acceptable to most of the survey's respondents as the virus continues to circulate. According to Jana Mossey, PhD, an epidemiologist who retired from Drexel University: "There is a strong likelihood that we will experience unexpected problems due to moving about as if the COVID pandemic was no longer a threat."

Others pointed out that the same simple rules still apply for some areas of public life, especially for the sake of protecting those who haven't received their shots yet. "Think of always ensuring two of three: masks, distancing, outdoors, particularly if among non-vaccinated individuals," Eyal Oren, PhD, an epidemiologist at San Diego State University, told The Times.

Another virus expert put his risk assessment in perspective. "I live in Hawaii and free-dive with sharks," explained F. DeWolfe Miller, PhD, an epidemiologist at the University of Hawaii. "Preventing COVID transmission is another matter."

Read on to see which places and activities the vast majority of virus experts are still avoiding right now, according to a survey conducted by The New York Times. We've ranked them from the things most of the experts would do to the things they largely do not consider safe.

RELATED: The Riskiest Things You're Doing After You're Vaccinated, CDC Says.

19
Run errands in person

young woman holding container of meat
Shutterstock/Twinsterphoto

Percent who would do it: 92 percent

Percent who wouldn't: 8 percent

18
Bring in mail without precautions

woman checking mail
iStock

Percent who would do it: 83 percent

Percent who wouldn't: 17 percent

RELATED: The 2 Places Dr. Fauci Still Won't Go After Vaccination.

17
Hike or gather outdoors with friends

two women sitting outdoors with home made face masks.
iStock

Percent who would do it: 74 percent

Percent who wouldn't: 26 percent

16
See a doctor for a non-urgent appointment

parents and young male child talking to doctor while all wearing masks amid covid pandemic
Shutterstock / SeventyFour

Percent who would do it: 63 percent

Percent who wouldn't: 37 percent

15
Get a haircut at a salon or barber shop

Barber with face mask combing customer’s beard
iStock

Percent who would do it: 53 percent

Percent who wouldn't: 47 percent

14
Interact outside within 6 feet without a mask

people gather in a park, eat pizza, no masks
damircudic / iStock

Percent who would do it: 45 percent

Percent who wouldn't: 55 percent

RELATED: The CDC Says These Are the "Least Safe" Places You're Going Right Now.

13
Vacation overnight within driving distance

Couple driving a convertible down the road adjacent to the water for a weekend getaway
Shutterstock

Percent who would do it: 43 percent

Percent who wouldn't: 57 percent

12
Hug or shake hands when greeting a friend

Happy mature man having fun while embracing with his adult son who came to visit him.
iStock

Percent who would do it: 39 percent

Percent who wouldn't: 61 percent

RELATED: The CDC Says to "Avoid" Going Here, Even If You're Vaccinated.

11
Visit an older relative or friend in their home

Senior woman in medical mask with social worker visiting her at home
iStock

Percent who would do it: 35 percent

Percent who wouldn't: 65 percent

10
Attend a small indoor dinner party

people gather indoors, eat together
PeopleImages / iStock

Percent who would do it: 32 percent

Percent who wouldn't: 68 percent

9
Eat indoors at a restaurant

A young server speaks to a couple sitting at a table at a restaurant while all wear face masks
iStock

Percent who would do it: 30 percent

Percent who wouldn't: 70 percent

RELATED: The CDC Says If You See This at a Restaurant, Don't Go Inside.

8
Travel by airplane

Travelers on a plane wearing face masks during the COVID-19 pandemic
iStock

Percent who would do it: 25 percent

Percent who wouldn't: 75 percent

7
Work in a shared office

Portrait of young man with face mask back at work in office after lockdown, working.
iStock

Percent who would do it: 24 percent

Percent who wouldn't: 76 percent

6
Ride a subway or a bus

woman with face mask looking at her phone on subway with man in a face mask behind her
Shutterstock

Percent who would do it: 20 percent

Percent who wouldn't: 80 percent

5
Exercise at a gym or fitness studio

Active fitness woman wearing hygienic protective face mask while training in gym to protect herself and others against coronavirus or covid-19. Stay safe and healthy.
iStock

Percent who would do it: 15 percent

Percent who wouldn't: 85 percent

RELATED: Dr. Fauci Says "Herd Immunity" Is No Longer the Goal With COVID—This Is.

4
Attend a wedding or a funeral

Gay couple having first dance at their wedding
Rawpixel.com/Shutterstock

Percent who would do it: 10 percent

Percent who wouldn't: 90 percent

3
Go on a date/outing with someone they don't know well

A young man and woman on a date with cocktails in front of them while the young woman covers her mouth
iStock

Percent who would do it: 9 percent

Percent who wouldn't: 91 percent

2
Attend a church or other religious service

Church social distancing
Shutterstock

Percent who would do it: 8 percent

Percent who wouldn't: 92 percent

1
Attend a sporting event, concert, or play

Crowd partying at a music gig
iStock

Percent who would do it: 6 percent

Percent who wouldn't: 94 percent

RELATED: America Will "Feel Close to Normal" by This Exact Date, COVID Expert Says.

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Zachary Mack
Zachary is a freelance writer covering beer, wine, food, spirits, and travel. Read more
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