Most parts of the U.S. were placed under lockdowns in the past months that required citizens to stay home, avoid gatherings and limit their time outside. But many of those infected likely caught the coronavirus from strangers and not from familiar people or anyone close to them.
That is according to a new study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Researchers found that many COVID-19 patients in the country can’t identify how they got the infection or who exposed them to the disease, Live Science reported Wednesday.
The study suggests that many infections potentially occurred somewhere else in communities and not from a familiar person in patients’ lives or family. It also highlights the importance of following lockdowns and prevention measures to manage the spread of COVID-19.
The findings come from the analysis of data gathered through telephone interviews with 350 infected adults in nine states. The respondents tested positive for COVID-19 between March 31 and May 10.
Only 23 percent of the patients tested while they were hospitalized and the rest learned about their infections in an outpatient setting, such as a doctor’s office or emergency room. Majority of those who were hospitalized were older adults and those with underlying health problems.
Asked about their history of coronavirus infection, 46 percent of the patients were able to recall their close contact with someone who had COVID-19 two weeks before their test results came out. However, a larger group failed to determine where or how they contracted the virus.
The study shows 54 percent of the respondents were not aware of having close contact with someone infected with COVID-19. Researchers said the findings show the importance of isolation of infected persons, contact tracing and testing.
Governments should also implement prevention measures, including social distancing and wearing face masks in public places, to help prevent or slow down community transmission.
Another important finding in the study is how COVID-19 affects more low-income and minority populations. The study backs earlier research that suggested those people are at higher risk of contracting the coronavirus compared to people with better employment status.