How Fast Does Covid Spread at Home?

Without a doubt, this holiday season is going to be pretty different.

While many had hoped that COVID-19 would be gone by now, today there’s some uncertainty as to when the pandemic will end.

A recent study has found that the new coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2, that causes COVID-19 transmits faster and more widely than previously reported.

The research was led by Dr. Carlos Grijalva, an associate professor of health policy, and Dr. H. Keipp Talbot, a professor of medicine at the Vanderbilt University Medical Center.

Researchers found that just over half, or 53%, of people living with someone with a SARS-CoV-2 infection contracted the virus themselves.

Of those people who contracted the virus from someone in their household, 75% of those infections occurred within 5 days of the first household member getting sick.

“The virus is actively spreading in several communities, and we may inadvertently allow the virus into our households,” Talbot said.

“We now know that when someone brings the infection into the household, around 50% of household members will get infected, and those infections will occur very quickly.” — Dr. H. Keipp Talbot

Pandemic fatigue amid rising cases

People in the United States have slowed down and changed their activities over the past 9 months to prevent COVID-19 transmission.

Understandably, many are starting to feel the social and mental effects of those changes as the holidays near.

Experts now worry about “pandemic fatigue,” or the relaxing of health behaviors that prevent COVID-19 transmission, as people get tired of following them with no end in sight.

“After all these months protecting our families, we all feel exhausted and we would like to gather safely with other household members and relatives. Unfortunately, the virus doesn’t get tired. It is relentless and can use those family, close-contact gatherings to spread,” Talbot told Healthline.

While many things have evolved from the early days of this pandemic, it’s always been known that proximity to someone who has the virus — especially without physical distancing (staying 6 feet part) and wearing masks — increases the likelihood of contracting the coronavirus and developing COVID-19.

Early in the pandemic, many health experts advised that plans should be canceled altogether, but as people get tired of the lack of social interaction, experts are shifting to a harm reduction model instead.

Dr. Ellen Eaton, assistant professor of medicine in the division of infectious diseases at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, told Healthline that “we know that many continue to meet indoors for gatherings, so rather than saying ‘Cancel that gathering’ like we advised in the spring and summer, you will see more guidance on how to make that gathering safer or reduce potential COVID harm.”

By planning in advance for the holidays, people can make sure their guests understand and will follow their household COVID-19 precautions.

Keeping activities outside or in a well-ventilated environment can help reduce the risk of infection, too.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also recommends celebrating outdoors or in a well-ventilated room during this holiday season, as well as limiting the number of guests and ensuring physical distancing.

Person-to-person transmission is the most common way COVID-19 is transmitted. With the holidays around the corner and families getting together, there’s a chance that this holiday season could make the transmission power of this virus stronger.

“As we start planning to celebrate the holidays, we need to put the protection of our family as the top priority, especially the protection of the most vulnerable members of our families, e.g., the older household members or those with chronic comorbidities.” — Dr. H. Keipp Talbot

Eaton also said she recommends plenty of hand sanitizer for everyone, and “elderly and vulnerable family members, such as those with medical conditions, should have a seat that is at least 6 feet from others.”

Staying vigilant this holiday season

As reported COVID-19 cases begin to rise again, there are new concerns that people will become less vigilant during the holidays.

It’s often difficult to abandon social rituals and events like Thanksgiving dinner, weddings, and birthday parties.

But staying vigilant and continuing to follow public health guidelines can help reduce your chances of getting COVID-19 and transmitting it to others.

And experts say it’s important to remember this pandemic will end.

“We anticipate that the burden of disease on our communities will get worse before it gets better. We do expect some normalcy in the future, but it will take time,” Eaton said.

Bottom line

The holiday season can still be celebrated during the pandemic, but it’s still important to follow public health guidelines to help reduce COVID-19 transmission.

New research has found that living with someone who has the virus increases your chances of also contracting it to over 50%.

Experts say it’s important to remember that many of the COVID-19 preventive measures, including wearing a mask and physical distancing, won’t be permanent.

Once a vaccine is introduced, we’ll be closer to our former normal lives, and knowing that should help people get through this pivotal holiday season.

Protect Yourself While You’re Out and About

Use these tips to reduce your risk of getting a cold, flu, or Covid-19.

As COVID-19 continues to spread across the United States, taking steps to reduce your risk of getting sick is critical. If you need to go out, use these tips to stay safe and healthy.

PUBLIC RESTROOMS

Get in and out quickly. Experts recommend that you avoid touching surfaces and hand dryers, and wash your hands as soon as you’re done.

RESTAURANTS

Check the restaurant’s COVID-19 safety guidelines before you go. The CDC also recommends avoiding buffets, socially distancing, and sitting outdoors.

AIRPLANES

Schedule your flight for non-peak times to minimize your exposure to others. Limit contact with frequently touched surfaces, like handrails, elevator buttons, and kiosks.

ELEVATORS

Wear your mask and avoid making conversation or coughing or sneezing. Experts also recommend adjusting your schedule to avoid crowds.

DOCTORS OFFICE OR URGENT CARE CLINIC

Wear a mask, keep hand sanitizer handy, and stay at least six feet away from others.

Remember, the family telemedicine benefit included with your PHMP is your first line of defense against non-emergency medical issues. Get the care you need 24/7 from the comfort and safety of home.

858 Comments
  • Debra+Williams
    Posted at 23:57h, 06 December

    Useful and helpful information.

  • Barry+Allen
    Posted at 17:38h, 06 December

    The information is needed everyone stay safe out there and we do appreciate the knowledge you share with us

  • Larry+ivie
    Posted at 17:43h, 05 December

    Thanks

  • Sandrali Schreiber
    Posted at 19:41h, 04 December

    Great stuff

  • Cathy+Owens
    Posted at 17:26h, 04 December

    Good information. Thank you!

  • Margaret Hamlin
    Posted at 03:05h, 04 December

    Good information and thank you.

  • Curt+Mendenhall
    Posted at 11:12h, 03 December

    Good advice

  • Mildred I Manalad
    Posted at 02:36h, 03 December

    yes we still need to be careful

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