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One-Third of Americans Should Now Do This to Stay Safe, Say U.S. Officials

Make a key chance in your habits.
FACT CHECKED BY Emilia Paluszek

Nearly one-third of Americans live in areas of medium or high community transmission of COVID-19. That number has risen preciptiously in the last month. That comes with new recommendations from public-health experts to make a key change in your habits to prevent further spread of the virus. Here's what one-third of people in the U.S. are now advised to do this to stay safe. Read on to find out more—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had COVID.


Do This If You Live in Areas of Medium or High Transmission

Woman wearing protective face mask in the office

The New York Times reported on Wednesday that 32 percent of Americans live in areas of medium or high COVID transmission, up from 24 percent the previous week. That increase caused Dr. Rochelle Walensky, head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, to say that people in those areas should adopt or at least consider preventative measures like wearing a face mask in public. 

"As we're currently seeing a steady rise of cases in parts of the country, we encourage everyone to use the menu of tools we have today to prevent further infection and severe disease, including wearing a mask, getting tested, accessing treatments early if infected and getting vaccinated or boosted," she said.

In New York City, an area where the designation was recently raised to "high," officials recommend avoiding large crowded gatherings and socializing in small groups at maximum.


How To Know The Status of Your Area

Officer use infrared forehead thermometer to check fever body temperature for virus symptoms

To determine whether you live in an area of medium or high COVID transmission, you can  check the CDC's color-coded map on its website).Green denotes low spread, yellow is medium, and red is high. 

In the green zone, facial masks aren't recommended (although anyone can wear one if they choose). In yellow areas, you should talk with your doctor about whether you should mask or take other precautions. In red zones, experts officially recommend wearing a face mask in public.


Caseloads Rising Nationwide

Man self tests for COVID-19 home test kit.

According to Times data, the number of new COVID cases has risen 61 percent in the last two weeks. It's risen about 100,000 for the first time since February. Experts say the spread of COVID is much likely higher, because many people are using at-home tests and not reporting positive results.


Officials Continue to Urge Vaccination

Woman in medical face mask getting Covid-19 vaccine at the hospital

Experts say that the best way to prevent severe illness, hospitalization, and death from COVID is to be fully vaccinated and get boosters as recommended. The CDC recommends that all Americans older than 12 should get a booster dose after completing their primary vaccination series. In addition, it's recommended that people older than 50, people with certain immunocompromising conditions, or those who got two doses of a Johnson & Johnson vaccine, get a second booster dose ASAP. These second booster doses are important because immunity against the virus wanes in the months after the first booster. 

Officials say booster shots may be recommended for all Americans this fall, but that call hasn't been made yet. 


How to Stay Safe Out There


Follow the 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.

Michael Martin
Michael Martin is a New York City-based writer and editor. Read more about Michael