Six months into the COVID-19 pandemic, people are starting to venture out of their houses and return to a new kind of normalcy. However, due to the highly contagious nature of the novel coronavirus, there is a little confusion as to how safe certain places actually are. We decided to ask one of the top infectious disease doctors in the country her thoughts on the unsafest place you can go in the age of coronavirus, and her answer may make you rethink your prevention tactics altogether.
Jaimie Meyer, MD, a Yale Medicine infectious disease specialist and assistant professor at the medical school, reveals that danger is lurking anywhere there are crowds—especially when they are congregating indoors.
“The least safe place to be right now is indoors in a crowded space, especially if that space is located in a region where there are rising numbers of cases,” she explains. This is due to the fact that crowded indoor spaces do not allow for social distancing, “violating the key rules for infection prevention of this virus that is carried on droplets and can be spread to others within 6 feet,” she says. As opposed to outdoor spaces, indoor spaces may also have limited ventilation, allowing virus-laden droplets to be suspended in the air for longer and not dispersed, she adds.
It Can Transmit By Coughing or Even Singing
While we all know the virus can be easily spread via coughing, it can also travel longer distancing in other circumstances. “We also know that the virus can transmit more easily when people are yelling or singing, because this forced air aerosolizes the virus and can increase transmission to others,” Dr. Meyer adds.
These types of transmission situations were evidenced early on in the pandemic, when large outbreaks of the virus occurred at meat plants, celebrations, conventions, and religious ceremonies. Over the last month, there have been several reports across the country of outbreaks tied to various indoor venues—including bars and restaurants—in newly reopened states.
The Bottom Line
If you want to avoid catching the coronavirus, your best bet is to avoid indoor, crowded spaces as much as possible. If you do find yourself in packed, indoor space, make sure to wear a mask and do everything you can to keep the recommended distance of 6 feet between yourself and others. And get through this pandemic at your healthiest, don’t miss these Things You Should Never Do During the Coronavirus Pandemic.