COVID-19 cases are rising again, serving as a stark reminder that the virus remains present in our lives. It's time for a refresher on how to stay safe amidst rising cases in the United States.
This blog post will touch on updated information about current variants and give you tips on how to avoid contracting COVID-19. We will also review extra precautions that high-risk individuals should consider.
Together, we can navigate these challenging times and come out stronger on the other side. Let's get started!
There has been a recent surge in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations across the United States, and many wonder about the role of variants in driving the virus's spread. Two specific variants have recently come under the spotlight in the scientific community: BA.2.86, known as Pirola, and EG.5, which goes by the moniker Eris.
BA.2.86, or Pirola, has made its presence known within the United States, albeit in limited numbers so far. Initially, there was apprehension due to the variant's remarkable number of mutations.
These mutations sparked concerns that Pirola could circumvent immunity developed through vaccinations or previous infections. Preliminary data suggests that this variant may not be as contagious or immune-evading as initially feared, offering a glimmer of hope amid the ongoing challenges.
The predominant variant currently in circulation across the United States is EG.5, also known as Eris. All the variants we're grappling with are rooted in the Omicron lineage, and they share a common characteristic: mutations with the potential to enhance transmissibility and capacity to bypass prior immunity.
Despite the recent increase in cases attributed to these Omicron-based variants, there's a noteworthy difference in the severity of illness. Compared to the early days of the pandemic, current cases tend to be less severe, and mortality rates have decreased.
Now is the perfect time to revisit the preventive measures that medical experts have been encouraging since 2020. These practices help us protect ourselves and our communities. Let's refresh our memory on how to stay safe and healthy.
Vaccination is an essential tool in our COVID-19 defense arsenal. It significantly reduces your risk of falling seriously ill, winding up in the hospital, and spreading the virus to others.
The best part? Vaccines are as easy to find as your favorite takeout spot! Visit our Vaccine Information page for more information and an online tool to help you find a vaccination location in your community.
Face masks might not be as flashy as capes, but they're superheroes in their own right when it comes to stopping the spread of COVID-19.
Slip on a mask when you're indoors, especially in places where it gets cozy and crowded. A well-fitted, high-quality mask, like an N95 or KN95, helps filter out particles as you breathe, making it harder for the virus to enter your body through your nose or mouth.
Check out the Mayo Clinic’s article about masks and how to use them effectively.
Social distancing is all about giving yourself literal breathing room, especially in crowded places.
The COVID-19 virus can only travel so far, and the more distance you have between yourself and others, the less likely it is that the virus can reach you and cause infection. Social distancing helps break the chain of person-to-person transmission.
A simple rule of thumb is to keep at least 6 feet of distance from people who aren't part of your household.
Hand washing is your secret weapon against lots of contagious illnesses! The key is to do it right: wash your hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Sing "Happy Birthday" twice in your head – that's about the right amount of time.
Wash your hands before you eat, when you return home from public spaces, and after using the bathroom. You should also wash your hands if you have sneezed or coughed into them, and after blowing your nose.
Hand sanitizers are helpful when you’re on the go and soap and water are not readily available. Look for sanitizers with at least 60% alcohol content for peak effectiveness.
Good ventilation is like a breath of fresh air for indoor spaces, especially when it comes to reducing the concentration of viral particles.
Open windows are one of the easiest and most cost-effective ways to improve ventilation. You can also keep doors ajar and turn on fans to decrease the accumulation of virus particles in the air.
This interactive home ventilation tool from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will help you learn more about how ventilation affects virus particle levels.
Some individuals continue to face a higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19. Adopting the right strategies can make a difference, whether you or someone close to you falls into this category. Below are some things to consider.
High-risk individuals should minimize their exposure to crowded places and situations where maintaining physical distance is challenging.
Opting for outdoor activities provides better airflow and more space to keep a safe distance from others while still enjoying social gatherings. When shopping or running errands, consider off-peak hours or take advantage of delivery services to reduce contact with people.
Regardless of vaccination status, high-risk individuals should continue following preventive measures diligently. This includes wearing masks, practicing thorough hand hygiene, and maintaining social distancing.
Healthcare professionals can offer valuable insights into whether additional precautions are necessary. Discuss your specific risks and seek tailored guidance based on your health conditions.
Staying updated on regional COVID-19 trends, vaccination recommendations, and specific guidelines for high-risk individuals in your area is also helpful.
As we face another upswing in COVID-19 cases, it's a good time to refresh the habits that protect ourselves and our communities. The emergence of new variants like BA.2.86 and EG.5 reminds us that the virus is still a threat, but our collective actions can make a significant difference in controlling its spread!
Check out our Latest News page for even more COVID-19 updates and resources.