Most public health efforts to contain spread of COVID-19 have been just that—public. It’s not without good reason, given how easily the virus can pass from one person to another and the great number of people most of us are exposed to every day. However, new data just published by JAMA Network Open should serve as a reminder that what we’re exposed to when we’re out of the house becomes what we expose our family members and cohabitants to when we get home. The meta-analysis of 87 studies representing nearly 1.3 million household contacts from 30 counties found an estimated household secondary attack rate of 19%, higher than was expected. The authors conjecture that this may be due to improved diagnostic tools as well as the emergence of more contagious variants. As more children return to schools (many of which have done away with distancing requirements and remote/hybrid options they instituted last year), consider that even vaccinated kids will probably be at greater risk for exposure—which means household transmission could be higher than ever. Maintain vigilance for exposure rates in your areas and be prepared to test liberally and proactively.

Let’s Not Overlook the Risk for Household Transmission of COVID-19