I'm a COVID-19 Expert and You're Most Likely to Catch COVID-19 Now. 10 Places to Visit with Caution.
Updated: Jul 26
BY DR. SOUMI EACHEMPATI MARCH 20, 2022
FACT CHECKED BY EMILIA PALUSZEK
As COVID-19 treks into its third (!) year, the combination of contagious variants and inadequately vaccinated populations leads to thousands of new COVID-19 infections every day. In this slideshow, Dr. Soumi Eachempati, former professor of surgery and public health at Weill Cornell Medical College and the Co-founder of CLEARED4, a COVID-19 safety platform, details 10 places where COVID is likely to be transmitted and why they should be visited with caution.
1 Nightclubs, Parties and Bars Going out late is back and in full swing! Unfortunately, late nights, alcohol, and socialization can lead to poor distancing, no masking, and a lack of COVID-19 awareness. As new variants emerge and immunity drops, superspreader events follow. We saw this demonstrated in 2021 in Provincetown, MA, during July 4 celebrations.
2 Restaurants, Coffee Shops and Cafeterias Many of these eating establishments lead to many individuals in closed spaces for long periods of time. Inadequate ventilation and lines for food lead to COVID-19 cases.
3 Gyms, Yoga Studios, and Workout Classes As we pay more attention to personal activity, our guard is let down to the continued risk of COVID-19. Additionally, tighter quarters and heavier and faster breathing with more vigor and open mouths lead to more propulsive aerosolization to others in the same space.
4 Transportation Hubs (Subways, Bus Terminals, Airports) Areas for travel are major risks for COVID-19 spreading. People carry luggage and packages, breathe heavier, and may not be masking. Additionally, queues for boarding and disembarking in closed quarters with impatient people ready to move to the next destination lead to more risk.
5 Stadiums for Concerts and Sporting Events Big events are also back! However, yelling and cheering with many people in tighter settings (especially indoors) lead to aerosolization without masking.
6 Grocery Stores and Public Markets People walking indoors distracted by food and children lead to a lack of distancing and tight breathing in close proximities. In some areas, these types of shopping areas are particularly at risk due to large crowds with little space (think The Grand Bazaar in Istanbul).
7 Taxicabs and Ubers (Especially Shared) Sharing cars with friends and families will also lead to closer breathing than many would have in other circumstances. With strangers and drivers (who have inordinately large numbers of exposures), the risk goes to another level.
8 Hangout Areas (Lounges, Dorm Rooms, and Other Shared Spaces) Being back in college is great for those who have missed out on the campus life. Unfortunately, being young, social, and seemingly invulnerable leads to a lot of contact indoors without a great deal of caution.
9 Elevators During the height of the pandemic, many people avoided elevators or stayed away from the office. Unfortunately, with reopening coming back and mask regulations absent, elevators have become more populated again and they haven't been built any bigger.
10 Cruise Lines Multiple mass COVID-19 events were noted on ships during the pandemic. As the cruise industry comes back to life with throngs of people besieged with pandemic fatigue, more events are likely to follow. Though they may pale in numbers of cases compared to earlier times, the sheer numbers of people on a single ship with countless tight spaces, buffet queues, and a plethora of socialization opportunities make this industry perhaps the riskiest place to get COVID-19.
DR. SOUMI EACHEMPATI Dr. Soumi Eachempati is a former Professor of Surgery and Public Health at Weill Cornell Medical College and was also the Director of both the Surgical ICU as well as Trauma at New York-Presbyterian Weill Cornell Center. He also received an appointment in the Division of Public Health. Dr. Eachempati is a Co-Founder and CEO of CLEARED4Work.