With an exhaustive data set comprised of Thanksgiving COVID-19 case surges, medical experts are now compiling similar numbers to reflect the impact Christmas may have had on recent outbreaks nationwide.
Updated literature appears to suggest that retail locations rank among the riskiest places in the US right now with respect to novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) transmission.
“Recent studies indicate that the virus can be spread by people who are not showing symptoms. It may be possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes,” the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention wrote in a recent assessment.
“Protect yourself while shopping. Wear a mask in public settings and when around people who don’t live in your household, especially when social is distancing is difficult. In general, the more closely you interact with others, and the longer that interaction, the higher the risk of COVID-19 spread. If you decide to engage in public activities, continue to protect yourself by practicing everyday preventive actions. Keep these items on hand when venturing out: a face mask, tissues, and a hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol, if possible.”
Analysis featured in Los Angeles County public health data justifies these concerns, with findings that highlight some alarming blind spots associated with state-ordered 20% capacity limits.
The authors more directly state that coronavirus outbreaks among retail staff (defined as 3 or more cases in a two week period) have increased by more than 150% in 505 businesses countywide from the 202 cases recorded back in November and October.
“The vast majority of outbreaks reported at shopping malls during the pandemic were reported in the past four weeks,” the Los Angeles Times reports.
Volume isn’t the sole contributor to retail hotspots. Public health officials are confident that opening establishments despite rising COVID-19 numbers coaxes shoppers into a false sense of security.
“There’s been so much messaging in the pandemic that said, ‘It’s not safe for X to be open, so we’re going to close X,'” Shira Shafir, PhD, an epidemiology professor at UCLA, said in a statement released in the Los Angeles Times. “It’s totally reasonable for people to then interpret the inverse: ‘If it’s open, it must be safe.'”
If your region is disproportionately affected by COVID-19transmissions, health systems urge against attending restaurants, bars, hotels and public transportation.
If you must transport hosts with your own vehicle, or if you are being exported by someone, please keep all windows down and avoid using central air.