- A more contagious COVID strain that originated in the UK has been found in more than 20 US states.
- Following COVID safety guidelines is as important today as ever, especially now that many hospital ICUs are at full capacity.
- Indoor gatherings have been responsible for many large coronavirus outbreaks.
The coronavirus has already claimed more American lives than World War 2, and some experts believe that the death toll could eclipse 500,000 before March. And while the advent of coronavirus vaccines is certainly encouraging, the simple reality is that it’s going to take a few months to vaccinate a sizable percentage of the population.
With that in mind, following coronavirus safety guidelines is as important today as it was back in April and May. This means that people should wear masks in public, adhere to social distancing, practice proper hand hygiene, and lastly, avoid indoor gatherings whenever possible.
The last point is especially worth harping on given that indoor gatherings are disproportionately responsible for coronavirus outbreaks. As an illustrative example, contact tracing data from New York last year revealed that close to 75% of all new COVID infections originated from household gatherings.
Indoor gatherings can often be a breeding ground for coronavirus transmission because the virus spreads more easily in closed-off environments with little to no ventilation.
“We need to pay a little bit more attention now to the recirculation of air indoors,” Dr. Anthony Fauci said during an interview with JAMA a few months ago, “which tells you that mask-wearing indoors when you’re in a situation like that is something that is as important as wearing masks when you’re outside dealing with individuals who you don’t know where they came from or who they are.”
Further, many people tend to take COVID safety guidelines less seriously when they’re with friends or in the comfort of their own home.
In light of the above, Dr. Leo Nissqla, writing for EatThis,NotThat, came up with a simple four-word phrase to help people keep COVID safety at the forefront of their minds: Don’t Share Your Air.
If you don’t want to get sick with COVID, do not hang out indoors with other people. It is that simple. You are more likely to catch COVID in indoor spaces—so to avoid getting sick, avoid indoors
As a result, Nissqla urges people to avoid going out to bars, restaurants, religious gatherings, and hair salons. Essentially, people should avoid going out to any venue where they’re liable to mingle with individuals outside of their immediate pod. Is this new information? Of course not. But still, with the U.S. still sometimes sees close to 200,000 new coronavirus cases a day, a reminder can only help.
It’s also worth pointing out what can happen when people do choose to congregate indoors. This past August, a 200-person karaoke party at a Florida social club turned into a superspreader event that resulted in 50 coronavirus cases and two deaths.
“This is actually a pretty dramatic event, it’s almost publishable,” Dr. Stephen Bickel of the Flagler and Volusia Health Department said at the time. “It’s really a tragedy. It’s certainly profound ignorance of the risk. The public may not be aware of what a risk this is. I thought they did, but maybe not.”