Health

These Are the 3 Riskiest Places to Go During COVID-19, According to Dr. Fauci

We’re all doing a lot of work figuring out the riskiest places for COVID-19 right now. And there are three places that may be particularly risky when it comes to the coronavirus, Anthony Fauci, M.D., director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said in a recent interview.

“The [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)] just came out with a figure that’s really telling,” Dr. Fauci told MSNBC All In host Chris Hayes last week. “It shows the odds of risk of different types of situations… Coming right out at you from the figure is restaurants, bars, and gyms.” 

He was likely referring to a recent CDC study showing that people with COVID-19 infections were significantly more likely to report having visited a restaurant or bar in the previous two weeks than those without the infection. Those who tested positive were also more likely to have visited a gym, but the difference was not as large. 

Why are these such high-risk places to visit? When you eat or drink at a restaurant or bar or work out in a gym, you’re more likely to be indoors and less likely to wear a mask, SELF explained previously. And in the context of a location that you already know has a high rate of coronavirus infections, those risks are even higher, Dr. Fauci explained. 

“When you have restaurants indoors in a situation where you have a high degree of infection in the community [and] you’re not wearing masks, that’s a problem,” Dr. Fauci said. “Bars are a really important place of spreading of infection, there’s no doubt about that.”

There’s the base level of risk that a particular activity might present, but that activity may be even riskier in an area of the country with a high amount of coronavirus cases. “[These risks] become particularly important if you happen to be in an area where there’s a high degree of community spread,” Dr. Fauci said. “And that’s the reason why we are very, very clear when we make a recommendation depending upon the level of infection in the community.”

When thinking about the riskiest places for COVID-19, remember that your risk is not an all-or-nothing situation, SELF explained previously. Instead, you can think of activities on a spectrum of risk. In general, the activities that pose the highest risk for getting (or spreading) COVID-19 are those that are held indoors, for an extended period of time, without masks, and with more people present. Activities that are held outdoors and with masks on—especially where you’re able to stay properly socially distanced from others—are on the safer end of the spectrum.

But also keep in mind that there are factors in any of those situations that you can control—and those you can’t. You can control your own mask wearing, social distancing, and hand washing habits, for instance. But you can’t necessarily control how well others are going to follow those recommendations or whether or not local governments will put stay-at-home order in place or force the places that pose the highest coronavirus risks to stay closed.

If making decisions about where to go, who to see, and how to spend your time are confusing right now, that’s understandable. Above all, remember that you can’t control all the risks, so it’s important to control the ones you actually can—and to avoid situations you know are going to be higher-risk as much as possible.

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