Public transportation Increases COVID-19 Risk by 4 times

Strict social distancing lowers risk by 90%

Public Transportation

Public Transportation

Using public transportation, visiting a place of worship, or otherwise traveling from the home is associated with a significantly higher likelihood of testing positive with the coronavirus.

On the other hand, practicing strict social distancing is associated with a markedly lower likelihood of contracting coronavirus, suggests a study in in Clinical Infectious Diseases from researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

For their analysis, the researchers surveyed a random sample of more than 1,000 people in the state of Maryland in late June, asking about their social distancing practices, use of public transportation, SARS-CoV-2 infection history, and other COVID-19-relevant behaviors.

They found, for example, that those reporting frequent public transport use were more than four times likely to report a history of testing positive for SARS-CoV-2 infection, while those who reported practicing strict outdoor social distancing were just a tenth as likely to report ever being SARS-CoV-2 positive.

The study is believed to be among the first large-scale evaluations of COVID-19-relevant behaviors that is based on individual-level survey data, as opposed to aggregated data from sources such as cellphone apps.

“Our findings support the idea that if you're going out, you should practice social distancing to the extent possible because it does seem strongly associated with a lower chance of getting infected,” says study senior author Sunil Solomon, MBBS, PhD, MPH, an associate professor in the Bloomberg School’s Department of Epidemiology and an associate professor of medicine at Johns Hopkins School Medicine.

An infection history also was 16 times more common among those who reported having visited a place of worship three or more times in the prior two weeks, compared to those who reported visiting no place of worship during the period. The survey did not distinguish between visiting a place of worship for a religious service or other purposes, such as a meeting, summer camp or meal.

Conversely, those who reported practicing social distancing outdoors “always” were only 10 percent as likely to have a SARS-CoV-2 history, compared to those who reported “never” practicing social distancing.

The data indicated a greater doption of social distancing practices among some groups who are especially vulnerable to serious COVID-19 illness, suggesting that they were relatively aware of their vulnerability. For example, 81 percent of over-65 participants reported always practicing social distancing at outdoor activities, while only 58 percent of 18-24 year olds did so.

REFERENCE
Steven J Clipman, Amy P Wesolowski, Dustin G Gibson, Smisha Agarwal, Anastasia S Lambrou, Gregory D Kirk, Alain B Labrique, Shruti H Mehta, Sunil S Solomon. Rapid real-time tracking of non-pharmaceutical interventions and their association with SARS-CoV-2 positivity: The COVID-19 Pandemic Pulse Study. Clinical Infectious Diseases, 2020; DOI: 10.1093/cid/ciaa1313
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