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Published on November 30, 2020

Behaviors That Increase Your Risk for COVID-19

Some places and behaviors can increase your risk for COVID-19. Learn what you can do to protect yourself and stop the spread from Jay Wyatt, MD, chief medical officer of Moses Cone Hospital in this 2 Your Well-Being Segment with WFMY News 2.

What can we do to avoid catching COVID-19? Are there places that are more risky than others?

“These days, any place where you're gathered on the inside, certainly in rooms that are more crowded than others, where there's a risk that people will not be wearing masks, where there are more than 10 people gathered - that certainly increases your risk of getting COVID. Also gatherings outside where the groups are larger, your risk has increased certainly if there are people that are not wearing masks. It's very difficult in the early stages of COVID infection to know if you are infected, so asymptomatic carriers are out there and being exposed without you wearing a mask, without them wearing a mask, certainly increases your risk.” 

How many people can gather in a group?

“Generally, we're recommending groups of greater than 10 should be avoided - even outdoors. Especially if these are not groups that have been together for a while, say, families that have been living together for a while. Even family members that have not been living with you should not be allowed to be within those groups coming from environments that you just don't know where they may have been exposed.”

What is considered risky behavior?

“I think risky behavior includes things like going to bars where people tend to get a little bit loose in their precautions and the contact is much closer, there's generally no restrictions on what they're doing in terms of masking sometimes. So I think that is truly risky behavior. I also think that going to gyms right now can be fairly risky, where you tend to aerosolize a little bit more because of the heavy work intensity. A lot of people are not able to wear masks during exercising, so that may increase your risk. Any gathering - parties, some weddings, funerals - anything like that tend to increase your risk. Even going to church, even on a limited basis can be risky.”

Is there a way we can support local businesses safely?

“I think if they're set up to keep you socially distanced in an appropriate manner -  you wear masks going in and out of the facility, the people working there are wearing masks -  I think that that does minimize your risk. I can't say that it eliminates the risk completely, but it certainly minimizes it.” 

Should everyone be concerned about risky places and behaviors, or only those who are at high risk of complications from COVID-19?

“This is for everyone out there. The people who are at higher risk are at higher risk of getting very sick when they contract the disease. If you're somewhat immunocompromised, you may be at higher risk of getting the disease, but the risk is mainly in being severely affected by COVID.”

What's the number one risky behavior you're seeing that has actually landed people in your treatment?

“It's really kind of hard to say, because it's hard to get a very clear story from everyone about what they've been doing, but it seems as though small gatherings, parties, family get-togethers, things like that have been increasing the risk somewhat.”

For people on the fence about whether or not they should go get tested, what would you tell them?

“So, I think if you have had a definite exposure to someone that you know either was positive or was symptomatic and positive during this holiday season or otherwise, you should certainly go get tested if you become symptomatic - or wait three to five days before you go get tested if you're asymptomatic.” 

And what is the importance of getting tested? Why do we need to do this?

“The importance is so that you don't expose other people if you happen to be positive. I actually had a good friend who, based on exposure from some contact in his family, went out to get tested and turned out that he was positive, and because of that or even before he got his results back, he decided not to come and play golf with a group of friends because of the risk. And I think that's being very responsible. And it turned out that he did turn out positive.”

If you need to quarantine, what does that look like? Should you separate yourself from your family in your house, or just not be around other households?

“If you are within the household, you can quarantine yourself within the house. That means you get sort of room service, and wear a mask all the time, and everyone else is wearing a mask, and you're cleaning constantly and washing hands all the time - and just making sure that everyone is staying appropriately spaced apart.”

Behaviors That Can Increase Risk of COVID-19

2 Your Well-Being

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