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Study: Gyms, Restaurants And Coffee Shops Are The Riskiest Places For Catching Coronavirus

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) -- Restaurants, gyms, and coffee shops are the riskiest places for catching coronavirus.

"You have a lot of people in a small area where you are not able to wear face masks. Obviously, when you are eating and drinking, you can't wear face masks and where ventilation may be less, that's going to be a higher risk location," says Allegheny Health Network emergency medicine physician Dr. Arvind Venkat.

In a study published in Nature, researchers at Stanford University used cell phone data to analyze the movement of people from March to May. They looked at where people went, how long they stayed, how many others were there and where they came from.

"It's really important to understand what are the activities that are safe, and what are the activities that are high risk," says Dr. Venkat. "Who are the people who get the disease, and who are the people that did not? Look at their activities and try and see where the associations are."

The information, along with case numbers and viral spread patterns, went into a computer model.

The results showed if these venues open to capacity, they would be the source of three times as many new infections than other kinds of places.

"It's not perfect, but it's very useful data because it looks at a lot of people and it fits with what we understand about the virus," Dr. Venkat says.

Also, 10 percent of the locations would account for 85 percent of predicted infections.

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"We are hearing a lot about what's called super spreader events," he said. "When you have a group of people together in an enclosed confined space, you can have a rapid increase in the number of cases."

Most of our day-to-day activities are not dangerous. But Dr. Venkat points out, cases and hospitalizations are going up. He worries unless people do their part and wear a mask around others to curb the spread, the hospitals could get overwhelmed.

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