Coronavirus transmission: UCSF doctor explains dangers of workplace break rooms

"A lot of the transmission that is happening in the workplace is happening in break rooms and happening during lunches or meals," Dr. Ralph Gonzales.

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Thursday, August 6, 2020
Are break rooms hot spot for COVID-19? UCSF doctor explains
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A UCSF doctor is warning that amid the coronavirus pandemic, your workplace break room is no longer a safe place to let your guard down and relax.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- As we learn more and more about COVID-19, and as some head back to work, doctors are giving strong warnings about when and where to be careful.

"A lot of the transmission that is happening in the workplace is happening in break rooms and happening during lunches or meals," says Dr. Ralph Gonzales of UCSF.

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He says that's when people take their mask off and relax, basically letting their guard down.

On Facebook we asked you if workplace break rooms are even on your radar as a concerning location. More than 150 of you had something to say about it.

Several people commented that microwaves where they work have been removed. Another person says they refuse to go in any break room right now.

"Usually I go to my car and we're fortunate we have a patio that is outside," says Brian Woodson, who works at Whole Foods. He says only three people are allowed in their break room at one time.

At O'Connor Hospital in San Jose, employees say they limit the number of people in their break room to four, but those cleaning that area tell us they scrub everything in sight.

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"Disinfect the door knobs, the water fountain, we have a water machine in there I disinfect as well," says the hospital janitor.

Doctors say we need to break some of our break room habits of eating and relaxing with others.

"It's such a hard habit to break because we need that time together, but we have to come up with creative ways that insure that both people don't have their mask off at the same time and that's when the transmission happens," says Dr. Gonzales.

Doctors we talked with jokingly said we have yet to figure out a way to eat with a mask on. They recommend distancing in situations where someone might choose to eat in a break room or just going somewhere else.

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