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You’re most likely to get the coronavirus in the one place you can’t avoid

Published Aug 17th, 2020 1:50PM EDT
Where to get COVID-19
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  • A new study claims that the place you are most likely to catch the coronavirus is at home.
  • The Guangzhou Center for Disease Control and Prevention in China traced 3,410 contacts of 391 COVID-19 patients and found 127 that became infected. Of the 127 secondary infections, 105 took place at home, while just 1 occurred on public transportation. 
  • Patients with worse symptoms were found to spread the virus more easily as well.

Five months into the novel coronavirus pandemic, most of us don’t have the luxury of staying home all day every day in hopes that the federal government will function long enough to pass another relief package or that researchers will miraculously approve a safe and effective vaccine before the end of the year. We have to take calculated risks when we go to work, go shopping, or just go out to get some fresh air, but it turns out that the place you are most likely to get infected with COVID-19 is the one place you’ll never be able to completely avoid.

A study published in the medical journal Annals of Internal Medicine from the Guangzhou Center for Disease Control and Prevention in China looked at 3,410 contacts of 391 patients that tested positive. 127 of those contacts became infected as well, and a vast majority of the secondary infections occurred at home.

The study looked at a variety of potential settings for transmission and found that an overwhelming percentage of the people who caught the virus from the index cases did so in their homes. Of the 127 secondary cases, 105 came from household contact. 11 occurred at entertainment venues or workplaces, 7 occurred in a healthcare setting, and just 1 was traced back to public transportation. Using this data, the researchers determined that the risk of contracting the coronavirus in your home if someone else is infected is the highest at 10.3%. The risk drops to 1% in a healthcare setting and even further down to 0.1% on public transportation.

These results are in line with virtually everything we’ve heard about the virus from the World Health Organization and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention down to local news stories and anecdotal reports. Prolonged exposure in an enclosed space puts you at greater risk of contracting the virus.

“In China, the quarantine of household contacts started immediately in designated places by local CDCs after index cases were diagnosed, which may have resulted in a relative lower secondary attack rate among household contacts compared with published studies in other countries,” the study explains. “However, the risk for secondary infection via household contact was still highest compared with other contact settings because people spent more time at home, which led to more frequent and longer unprotected exposure than the other contact settings.”

Furthermore, the study also notes that “patients with more clinically severe disease were more likely to infect their close contacts than were less severe index cases.” Asymptomatic carriers were found to be the least likely to infect others, and the secondary cases were “in general clinically milder and were less likely to manifest such common symptoms as fever, cough, expectoration, fatigue, myalgia, and diarrhea.”

Jacob Siegal
Jacob Siegal Associate Editor

Jacob Siegal is Associate Editor at BGR, having joined the news team in 2013. He has over a decade of professional writing and editing experience, and helps to lead our technology and entertainment product launch and movie release coverage.