The coronavirus rampages throughout the USA, despite what it may feel like in your neck of the woods. And could a surge be coming your way? Michael Osterholm, an epidemiologist and director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota, spoke about the spread on his podcast, and issued some warnings every American should heed. Read on for five pieces of advice that could save your life—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don’t miss these Sure Signs You’ve Already Had COVID.
Virus Expert Warns the Virus is Creeping North
“If there is any good news,” says Osterholm, “it comes in the form of at least temporary relief from previous hot spots—Florida, Georgia, Missouri, Louisiana, South Carolina, et cetera.—but at the same time, activity seems to be creeping North.” He describes the spread as “viral lava. And I don’t think we can discount the possibility of new hotspots emerging in the Midwest or even parts of the Northeast. This could pause national declines. As we see increases occurring in Montana, North Dakota, Wisconsin, Michigan. We still have to be concerned about how high those particular states will go. Some states like Iowa and Minnesota, while still having increased rates of new infections—it appears to might be leveling off. If we look to the far Northeast at Maine, which has seen an 18% increase in cases over the last 14 days, Pennsylvania, 10% increase, New Hampshire, 14% increase Vermont 35% increase. We have to ask ourselves what will happen in those areas. Will this in fact, end up basically peaking also in the next few days to weeks and seeing the continued diminishing surge occur?”
Virus Expert Warns “There is Still Human Wood” That the Virus Can Burn
“Overall, there’s still a lot of human wood left for this coronavirus forest fire to burn,” says Osterholm. “That fact combined with Delta schools and upcoming holidays has me skeptical that we won’t be seeing new hotspots emerge in this country over the next several weeks and months. So where do I see us going? I think we will continue to see surges. They may not be nearly as high as the ones we’ve just had, but they will occur. They surely will have the same geographic pattern that we’ve seen in the past where it’s not the entire country. It’s one region. This recent surge surely has been unusual in that it started in the Southern Sunbelt states and then moved its way north eastward. The surge in the Northwest started in the far Northwest in Oregon and Washington and seemed to move eastward.”
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Virus Expert Warns the Virus Preys on Gaps in Protection
“The virus can and will take full advantage of any gaps in protection at the population level,” warns Osterholm, “but exactly where and when the surges and declines happen, doesn’t always seem to comply with human logic or reason. And I can tell you anyone who has the answer as to why this is occurring—also be careful. They probably have a bridge to sell you. In the meantime, we need to make use of this current ebb and flow to do whatever we can to get more of the world vaccinated and to limit the damage of future surgeries, which should not be unexpected. This unfortunately is likely to occur for months and maybe even years ahead, at least until we can get the world vaccinated.”
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Virus Expert Says Don’t Wait on a Magic Pill to Save You
An antiviral pill developed by Merck and Ridgeback Biotherapeutics may cut the risk of COVID death and hospitalization in half. But: “We’ve lost 700,000 Americans now and fully 200,000 of those folks have died since vaccines have been available almost to everyone in this country, and every one of those deaths is unnecessary,” Dr. Jonathan Reiner, CNN medical analyst and professor of medicine and surgery at George Washington University, told CNN’s Pamela Brown Saturday. “So even though the news is great for this antiviral agent, really the message that people need to receive is ‘get vaccinated.’ No one needs to die from this virus.”
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How to Stay Safe Out There
“Vaccination is our answer out,” says Osterholm. Follow the public health fundamentals and help end this pandemic, no matter where you live—get vaccinated ASAP; if you live in an area with low vaccination rates, wear an N95 face mask, don’t travel, social distance, avoid large crowds, don’t go indoors with people you’re not sheltering with (especially in bars), practice good hand hygiene, 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.