Don't Go Here Even if It's Open, Says COVID Expert
Although it feels like the pandemic is over in many ways, the medical community warns it's not and learning to live with the virus is the direction we're heading. While COVID is here to stay for now, keeping updated on the latest information and taking safety precautions is vital to staying healthy. Eat This, Not That! Health spoke with experts who share what to know about COVID right now and how to help prevent catching it. Read on—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had COVID.
What to Know About COVID Right Now
Dr. William Li, physician, scientist, president and medical director of the Angiogenesis Foundation, and author of Eat To Beat Disease: The New Science of How Your Body Can Heal Itself tells us, "COVID-19 continues to surge around the world, now headed toward its third year as a new human disease. Although we are in a much different place than in 2020, the pandemic is still very much alive and around us, with new sub variants emerging and infecting people, and causing more than 300 deaths each day. We have the technology for diagnosis and treatment, so the infection itself is becoming a more manageable illness."
Daniel Skinner, associate professor of health policy at Ohio University says, " "COVID-19 is still very much with us, and the main strains circulating around the world are deadly. Getting vaccinated remains the best way to make sure that if you do get COVID-19, you will be OK. And for those who continue to say that COVID-19 is no big deal, or even that it's not real, it's important to understand that we have only begun to understand the long-term health consequences of COVID-19. There are lots of people suffering from serious long-term effects."
Long COVID is a Major Concern
Dr. Li tells us, "The biggest concern is long COVID, which is thought to affect anywhere from 10% to 30% of people who have COVID, even the young, those without underlying comorbidities, and those who have only mild symptoms. Long COVID is poorly understood and can be debilitating for those suffering from it. The easiest way to avoid long COVID is to avoid getting infected in the first place, and the easiest way to do that is to get vaccinated and boosted, and to wear a mask, even though many people no longer choose to wear one."
COVID Cases are Rising in Europe
Bernadette Boden-Albala, MPH, DrPH, Director and Founding Dean, University of California, Irvine Program in Public Health states, "We like to look to our neighbors in the east and west, specifically Europe where case numbers are inching up and be on the lookout for any new variants. There have also been reports that we should expect a bad flu season, which will complicate COVID case monitoring since symptoms are similar."
We're Still in a Pandemic
Dr. Li states, "The World Health Organization is the entity that declares whether a disease represents a pandemic, and they have stated we are still in one."
Professor Skinner says, "By almost every objective measure, we are still in a pandemic. Thousands of people are dying from COVID-19 every day around the world. Though cases and deaths are at a low point right now, at least in most countries, the winter will be a big test. We've seen peaks every winter since 2020. It remains to be seen whether the coming winter will be different."
Dr. Boden-Albala says, "We are in a much better place, and I expect to see us transitioning to an endemic. This is due, in large part, to the fact that a lot of people have been exposed to the virus and have received vaccines. We now have the bivalent booster, which targets several variants. However, we still need to be cautious and make wise choices."
How to Help Stay Healthy
Dr. Boden-Albala explains, "To prevent severe reactions to COVID and the flu, we need to be vaccinated and take other measures, including hygiene, good sleep, eating well, tracking case counts in your community, and being mindful of spreading the virus."
Dr. Li suggests avoiding "Large public indoor gatherings where people are not masking like nightclubs," in an effort to prevent getting the virus. He adds, "You will almost certainly be exposed to someone who has COVID, and if neither you nor others are masked, there is a good chance you could be infected."
Dr. Boden-Albala shares, "There are recommendations and policies throughout the country on masking – keeping track will help guide you. I would suggest avoiding public transportation if you're not feeling well and don't be afraid to wear your favorite mask if you're indoors with big crowds."
Continue to Take Precautions
Professor Skinner states, "Avoiding certain places isn't really the answer and pointing to places to avoid is likely to be unproductive. I just completed a few weeks of international travel, and I made it through without getting COVID-19. If you do travel, get vaccinated, wear a mask, and avoid large crowds in indoor spaces. The world is learning to live with COVID-19 in important ways. But each person has to take basic precautions to stay safe. With all of the focus on COVID-19, it's important to remember that influenza also kills thousands of people every year, so get your flu shot!" 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.