Avoid COVID Now Using These Proven Methods
The number of new COVID-19 cases is literally off the charts. The U.S. daily average is now above 650,000, more than twice the pandemic's previous peak in January 2021. The culprit: The Omicron variant, which is extremely contagious and readily able to evade the protection of vaccines and previous COVID infection. But that doesn't mean you should be resigned to catching the coronavirus. (Nor should you want to; although Omicron seems to produce milder initial illness, it still carries the risk of complications like debilitating "long COVID.") Here's what experts say you should do to avoid COVID now. 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.
Wear a High-Quality Mask (Not Cloth)
In recent weeks, a chorus of health experts have advised that because COVID is now so contagious, cloth masks are no longer sufficient protection. It's time to upgrade. "Quality of mask really matters. There is no place for cloth face masks at this point," public health expert Dr. Leana Wen said recently. "We need to be wearing at least a three-ply surgical mask. You can wear a cloth mask on top of that, but do not just wear a cloth mask alone."
This week, infectious-disease specialist Dr. Monica Gandhi told the Wall Street Journal that she recommends N95, KN95, KF94, and FFP2 masks. If those aren't available, she advises double masking: Wearing a multilayered cloth mask fitted snugly over a surgical mask. Surgical masks are made of polypropylene, which has electrostatic properties that catch virus particles and prevent you from inhaling them.
Avoid Indoor Restaurants and Bars
From the early days of the pandemic, studies have found that indoor restaurants and bars are a major source of COVID transmission. The reason: They're usually poorly ventilated and packed with people who aren't wearing masks. Dr. Robert Wachter, chair of the UC San Francisco Department of Medicine, recently tweeted that he would not dine at an indoor restaurant right now. "Context matters: What might be safe for a healthy 30-year-old could be way too unsafe for a frail octogenarian," he wrote. "It's not about you alone. That healthy 30-year-old can spread COVID unwittingly to someone at high risk, including a loved one. So decisions about risk need to account for risk to others." To stay safe, order delivery or takeout, or dine and drink outdoors.
Avoid Large Gatherings
Experts are nearly unanimous: To avoid COVID, avoid large indoor gatherings. "When you're having such … a tsunami of infections—when we are seeing people who are vaccinated and boosted who are getting breakthrough infections—the safest thing to do is to be in a home setting, friends, relatives who you know are vaccinated and boosted," said Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's top infectious-disease expert, on CNN's New Day this week. "What you want to avoid are places where you have 20, 30, 40, 50 people, many of whom you have no idea of whether or not they're vaccinated or boosted."
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Skip In-Person Shopping
"Avoid shopping at overcrowded stores," immunologist Leo Nissola, MD, advised ETNT Health last week. Instead, order groceries and household staples by delivery or use curbside pickup. "If you must buy in person, attempt to get what you need as soon as possible to avoid having to share your air with others," said Nissola. "Wear a good quality face mask, maintain social distance and avoid huge groups."
Avoid Unessential Travel
Many health experts advise postponing non-essential travel for the moment. Before the pandemic, epidemiologist Dr. Michael Osterholm was a frequent traveler, flying nearly 150,000 miles a year. Since COVID hit, he has been on a plane just once since March 2020. "Anything I can avoid, I will," Osterholm told NBC News this week. "It's an easy one for me in the sense that I am able to accomplish what I need to accomplish without having to get on a plane."
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.