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4 Places You'll Most Likely Catch COVID, According to Dr. Gupta

Be mindful of these places.
FACT CHECKED BY Emilia Paluszek

COVID cases have dropped nationwide and restrictions like mask mandates have loosened, but experts have made it clear: The COVID-19 pandemic isn't likely to be over anytime soon. New variants may cause future spikes, and it may be time to reach for the face masks or limit your trips to certain public places again. (Depending on your risk factors, you may want to continue wearing a mask in public these days too.) Earlier in the pandemic, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN's chief medical correspondent, said that 80 percent of COVID transmission occurs in just a few places. Read on to find out more—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had COVID.

1

Restaurants

young friends eating together at restaurant
Shutterstock / Monkey Business Images

From the beginning of the pandemic, health officials have warned that dining indoors is a COVID risk. They often feature close seating, people talking and eating (and potentially expelling virus particles) without masks, and poor ventilation. According to a 2021 study by the CDC, people who tested positive for coronavirus were twice as likely to have eaten at a restaurant in the previous two weeks.

2

Bars

drinking beer
Shutterstock

"Bars have become notorious as sources of COVID spread," a professor of infectious diseases at Vanderbilt University Medical Center said earlier in the pandemic. "They are almost always indoors. People are there for prolonged periods of time, very close together, they're unmasked because they're drinking and talking. And that's the sine qua non for spread of a respiratory virus." 

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3

Cafés

minnesota at saras table chester creek cafe
Steve P./ Yelp

Just like restaurants and bars, cafés are often crowded and poorly ventilated. A CDC study found that 8.5 percent of people who tested positive for COVID had visited a bar or café right before their infection.

RELATED: Signs You Have Diabetes, Say Physicians

4

Houses of Worship

Group of prayers in Covid times
iStock

In houses of worship, there's often shoulder-to-shoulder seating, and attendees are frequently speaking, singing and shaking hands. Churches were the source of several COVID outbreaks during the pandemic. Because COVID can be transmitted just by exhaling, it may be a good idea to attend virtual services when COVID transmission is high in your area, according to new CDC guidelines (which you can check on the CDC's website or by calling 800-232-4636).

RELATED: Sure Signs You Have Atrial Fibrillation, Say Physicians

5

How to Stay Safe Out There

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Follow the fundamentals and help end this pandemic, no matter where you live—get vaccinated ASAP; if you live in an area with low vaccination rates, wear an N95 face mask, don't travel, social distance, avoid large crowds, don't go indoors with people you're not sheltering with (especially in bars), practice good hand hygiene, and to protect your life and the lives of others, don't visit any of these 35 Places You're Most Likely to Catch COVID.

Michael Martin
Michael Martin is a New York City-based writer and editor whose health and lifestyle content has also been published on Beachbody and Openfit. A contributing writer for Eat This, Not That!, he has also been published in New York, Architectural Digest, Interview, and many others. Read more about Michael