A recent study revealed that COVID-19 can spread among members of the same household at an alarming rate. The study was conducted in Wisconsin and Tennessee from April to September 2020. Results from the households that participated led researchers to these main conclusions:
- SARS-CoV-2 is frequently spread among adults and children in the same household.
- The virus is spread throughout the household quickly and early during illness onset.
- Protective measures within the household should be taken immediately and stay consistent until everyone is healthy again, to prevent further spread.
The COVID-19 household study was conducted at Vanderbilt University Medical Center by Dr. H. Keipp Talbot, professor of medicine, and Dr. Carlos Grijalva, associate professor of health policy. The researchers determined that staying healthy when someone in your household has contracted COVID can be tricky. Of the households studied, 53% of healthy persons sharing a home with an infected person also contracted the virus.
They also found that new infections spread from housemate to housemate very quickly. Approximately 75% of additional infections in the same household occurred within five days of the first infection discovered through testing or symptoms.
7. The Added Concern of “Pandemic Fatigue”
As the holidays approach, medical authorities are concerned that families and people sharing a household will relax their infection precautions, both to their detriment and to the health risk of others they come in contact with after the holidays pass. After many months of social distancing, a wave of “pandemic fatigue” can find people getting careless because they are tired of the isolation. They find cancelling or missing holiday celebrations emotionally challenging, especially after such a difficult year. Yet these household gatherings pose a significant threat to public health this winter, before COVID-19 vaccines are widely available.
6. The CDC’s Concerns About the Holidays
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) is concerned about how even small household gatherings this holiday season could rapidly increase COVID cases in the US. “Unfortunately, the COVID-19 epidemic is worsening, and small household gatherings are an important contributor to the rise in COVID-19 cases,” the CDC states on their website, where they offer guidelines for holiday celebrations. “These considerations are meant to supplement—not replace—any state, local, territorial, or tribal health and safety laws, rules, and regulations with which all gatherings must comply.”