For the last year of the pandemic, the world has been waiting for the introduction of a COVID-19 vaccine, hoping that immunity could be achieved and life would return to normal. However, now that two of these vaccines are here and people are receiving the first and second doses, it is clear that things are not going to turn around over night. Additionally, the detection of new variants of the virus, thought to be more transmissible than the original—and possibly more deadly—makes it just as important as ever to protect yourself and others from becoming infected. During the White House Coronavirus Task Force briefing on Friday, the new Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Rochelle P. Walensky, MD, MPH, warned that doing certain things will put your life at risk. Read on to find out what they are—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don’t miss these Sure Signs You’ve Already Had Coronavirus.
Don’t Forget to Wear a Mask
First and foremost, she strongly suggests wearing a mask. “Wear a mask that covers your nose and mouth to help protect yourself and others,” the CDC writes on their website. Who should mask up? Anyone over two should wear masks in public settings, like on public and mass transportation, at events and gatherings—anywhere they will be around other people. “We know viruses mutate, and they tend to mutate in ways that are advantageous to the virus,” Dr. Walensky explained. “We expected this, and this is why I feel compelled to underscore for you the need for each of us to remain steadfast in our commitment to taking all of the appropriate steps to protect ourselves and our communities.” Starting with your mask.
Don’t Forget to Maintain Social Distancing
Dr. Walensky stresses the importance of social distancing. “Stay six feet apart,” she says. The CDC suggests keeping this distance anytime you are around others who don’t live in your household.
Think of COVID as a numbers game: the more people in one space, the more potential there is for spread. “Being in crowds like in restaurants, bars, fitness centers, or movie theaters put you at higher risk for COVID-19,” they CDC write on their website.
Always Pick Outside Over Inside
Dr. Walensky strongly encourages avoiding “poorly ventilated spaces.” On the CDC website they emphasize that the riskiest indoor places are ones “that do not offer fresh air from the outdoors as much as possible.” If indoors, they suggest opening windows and doors. “If you want to spend time with people who don’t live with you, outdoors is the safer choice!”
Do Not Travel
You might want to consider canceling any travel plans. “Now is not the time to travel,” asserts Dr. Walensky. “If you choose to travel, please follow the CDC guidelines and be aware that you must wear a mask as you travel,” she urges.
Do Not Put Off Being Vaccinated
Last, but not least, get the vaccine when you can. “When it is your turn, please roll up your sleeve and get vaccinated,” she urges.
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Do Your Part to Stay Safe
“If we do all these things, there is less virus spreading and the conditions can prove that produce variants are lessened,” Dr. Walensky concluded. So follow all the recommended fundamentals and help end this surge, no matter where you live—wear a face mask, social distance, avoid large crowds, don’t go indoors with people you’re not sheltering with (especially in bars), practice good hand hygiene, get vaccinated when it becomes available to you, and to protect your life and the lives of others, don’t visit any of these 35 Places You’re Most Likely to Catch COVID.