Skip to content

8 Ways You Could Unknowingly Catch Coronavirus

Discover if you’re in danger of contracting COVID-19.

With COVID-19 in the news everyday, and advice being thrown at you left and right, you may assume you're taking all the proper precautions you can to avoid infection. But even if you're following all the guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), you may still be at risk. Consider these eight ways you could unknowingly catch the virus and make the changes necessary to ensure you stay safe—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had Coronavirus.


Opening a Door

close up of woman's hand reaching to door knob, opening the door

Door handles are frequently touched surfaces in public places. If an infected individual grabs a door handle or pushes open a door, they may infect the surface. "Respiratory secretions or droplets expelled by infected individuals can contaminate surfaces and objects, creating fomites (contaminated surfaces)," according to the World Health Organization (WHO)

If you open the same door, these contaminants can get on your hands and if you bite your nails, itch your nose, or rub your eyes, you could catch coronavirus. After opening doors in public, be cautious about where your hands are until you can thoroughly wash them.


Visiting a Grocery Store

female wears medical mask against coronavirus while grocery shopping in supermarket or store- health, safety and pandemic concept - young woman wearing protective mask and stockpiling food

You may need to run to the store to stock up on essential items but if you don't follow proper protocol, you're putting yourself at risk for catching COVID-19. Coronavirus can be transmitted when you're close to other people who are infected or if you touch infected surfaces. Be sure to disinfect your shopping cart and avoid touching your face until you know your hands are clean.

The CDC recommends you limit your grocery store trips to decrease the possibility of exposure to the virus. Use online ordering or curbside pickup so you can avoid large shopping crowds. The CDC also suggests you, "go during hours when fewer people will be there (for example, early morning or late night)." 


Rubbing Your Eyes

businessman taking off glasses rubbing dry irritated eyes

Virus transmission is more likely to happen when you breathe in respiratory droplets from an infected person. However, according to the University of Utah Health, "The droplets can also enter through the membranes protecting your eyes—specifically the conjunctiva, a thin, transparent layer of tissue that lines the inner eyelid and covers the white part of the eye." 

If you touch an infected surface or somehow have respiratory droplets on your hands, it's crucial to keep your fingers away from your eyes until you can thoroughly wash or sanitize to prevent transmission of the virus.


Hanging With a Friend

Two young female friends chatting over coffee in cafe.

You feel fine and your friend feels fine, so it seems completely safe to hang out. However, it's possible that your friend is asymptomatic and spending time together in close quarters without masks may allow for the unknowing transmission of COVID-19 through respiratory droplets. 

A study published in eLife found that the "mean incubation periods accounting for intermediate cases were 4.91 days." During that time, an infected person may not feel any symptoms but could be contagious. If you want to visit with friends, implement social distancing and follow other CDC guidelines to prevent spreading COVID-19.


Sharing a Computer at Work

Businessman hard at work on a computer in an office

If you're back in the office, your employer should have implemented certain guidelines and regulations to keep you safe. If you share a computer with co-workers, it's especially important to keep the keyboard, mouse, and other frequently touched surfaces sanitized. 

If a co-worker has the virus and droplets are on the computer, touching your face after working on the same computer may cause you to catch COVID-19. 

When it comes to these surfaces, especially if they're shared, the CDC recommends you and your employer, "Consider putting a wipeable cover on electronics." The CDC also suggests you follow manufacturer's instructions for cleaning and disinfecting and if there aren't instructions, you should, "use alcohol-based wipes or sprays containing at least 70% alcohol."


Itching Your Nose

health problem and people concept - indian man rubbing nose over grey background

According to the CDC, the most common way coronavirus is spread is through respiratory droplets from infected individuals that "can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs." 

If these contaminated respiratory droplets were in the air and made their way to your face, all it takes is a simple nose itch to potentially catch COVID-19. Whether your mask is tickling your face or your allergies are getting to you, avoid contact with your nose or face in public until you've thoroughly washed your hands.


Touching Your Dirty Cell Phone

Young nervous woman looking at smartphone and biting her fingernails at home.

According to research published by Asurion, in 2020, the average American checked their phone 96 times a day, or once every 10 minutes. Not only is that a lot of unhealthy screen time, it's also putting you at risk for contracting COVID-19. 

If your phone touched surfaces with contaminated respiratory droplets, then you touch your phone, then your face, you could contract the virus. The CDC recommends cleaning your electronics, including your phone, according to manufacturer's instructions or with an alcohol-based spray or wipe regularly. 


Using Public Transportation

sinesswoman wearing protective mask while traveling by public transportation.

When you hop on a public bus or train, you're at risk for contracting COVID-19 from the people around you or from the frequently-touched surfaces you're surrounded by. According to the John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, "The enclosed space and crowds make vehicles and stations high-risk locations for transmission of the virus through the spread of respiratory droplets and contamination of high-touch surfaces."

Try to avoid public transportation altogether, but if you must use it, the CDC recommends you practice social distancing, wear a mask, and wash your hands thoroughly before touching your face. And to get through this pandemic at your healthiest, don't miss these 37 Places You're Most Likely to Catch Coronavirus.

Kelly Hernandez
Kelly Hernandez is a health and wellness writer and certified personal trainer. Read more about Kelly
Filed Under