Where are the most dangerous places to catch COVID?

By Editor on 14th Aug 2020

There is a lot of conflicting information about the safest places to be during the Coronavirus pandemic. Therefore, the website CivicMeter surveyed 27 epidemiologists from institutions such as the University of Iowa, Emory University, UNC, University of Massachusetts, and others.

The survey focused on two top-of-mind areas: The risks associated with reopening and traveling; and COVID-19 data quality. The survey also asked experts for their reactions to the survey findings.

Professor of Preventive Medicine and Infectious Diseases at Vanderbilt University Medical Center:
“Bars have become notorious as sources of COVID spread. 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.”

“Hotels certainly haven’t been mentioned as a high risk place. If you think about hotels, you have a lot of control over your own circumstances. You check in, you’re distanced from the check-in person. Both people are hopefully masked. You’re not at check in very long. You go up to your room in an elevator alone, and you go directly to your room, where you’re often alone. Pretty safe.”

Associate Professor of Epidemiology, Rollins School of Public Health at Emory University:
“I think a bar is about the utmost unsafe place. My work is with prisons and jails, that’s where I do all my research. I think in theory it’s possible for jails and prisons to be fairly safe, if they have adequate resources for screening individuals coming in (and there are some jails that do); that it can be safer than a bar. I think a bar is the most unsafe place, and that’s after having worked at a lot of prisons and jails.

The experts cautioned that risk levels can change dramatically depending on many factors, including where in a state you’re traveling to; how you’re getting there (flying vs driving); and where you’re staying (hotel vs remote cabin vs. busy resort).

Expert Comment: Associate Professor, Division of Health Policy and Management, University of Minnesota School of Public Health: “Countries that are highly ranked also seem to be those countries that implemented robust testing and contact tracing programs and were able to get their epidemics under control (South Korea, Germany). Countries where the epidemic has become political, where leaders are downplaying the severity, where messaging has been inconsistent, and/or where there are contradictory narratives seem to be the ones ranked as less trustworthy (e.g., Brazil, Mexico).”

For the full survey click here.

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