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CDC Chief Just Issued This Important Omicron Update

"The emergence of the Omicron variant again emphasizes the importance of vaccinations and boosters."
FACT CHECKED BY Emilia Paluszek

More curveballs. That's what we can expect from this coronavirus pandemic, says Dr. Rochelle Walensky, the head of the CDC, who testified this morning before the Senate on the Biden administration's response to the Omicron variant, alongside fellow virus experts Dr. Anthony Fauci and acting head of the FDA Dr. Janet Woodcock. How can you stay safe, given the fact that hospitalizations are rising again? Read on for 5 life-saving pieces of advice—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had COVID.

1

CDC Chief Said Hospitalizations are Increasing "Across All Age Groups"

One nurse looking at the medical ventilator screen.
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Walensky wanted to address "the impact of the Omicron variant….Omicron is now the dominant variant in the United States, driving case counts to unprecedented heights here in the United States and around the world. Despite the increases in cases, there are promising emerging data from South Africa and the United Kingdom that hospitalization rates for people infected with Omicron are lower compared with prior variants. These data seem consistent with what we're seeing so far in the United States. However, despite a potential decrease in severity, the substantial number of absolute cases is resulting in hospitalization increases across all age groups, including children, age zero to four. The emergence of the Omicron variant again emphasizes the importance of vaccinations and boosters, which decrease the risk of infection, severe disease and death caused by COVID-19."

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2

CDC Chief Said Here's When to Get Your Booster

Doctor holding syringe in hospital.
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The CDC Chief said boosters are key. "Just last week, we made important progress towards increasing booster coverage through four key actions," she said. "First, we expanded eligibility of booster doses to those 12 to 15 years old. Second CDC" recommends "that adolescents age 12 to 17 years old should receive a booster shot five months after their initial Pfizer" dose. "Third, we recommended that moderately or severely immunocompromised five to 11 year olds receive an additional primary dose of vaccine 28 days after their second shot. And fourth, we shortened the recommendation that recommended time between a primary mRNA series and a booster dose from six month to five months. Each action increases access to vaccines and booster doses at a time when protection is critical, as we continue to monitor this rapidly evolving virus."

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3

CDC Chief Said This is What to Do if You Test Positive for COVID

Woman home isolation quarantine wearing face mask
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"For people who tested positive for COVID-19: CDC recommends isolation for five days, if you are symptomatic, or if your symptoms are resolving, for example, you're without a fever for 24 hours, you no longer need to isolate," said Dr. Walensky. "However, you should continue to wear a well-fitting mask at all times when around others, including at home and in public for an additional five days. We recommend that you avoid activities where you are unable to wear a mask and that you avoid travel for the full 10 days. In addition, CDC changed the recommended duration of quarantine. Quarantine is what you do after your exposure. People who are not up to date on recommended COVID 19 vaccines should quarantine for five days. If they come in contact with someone with COVID-19, people who do not develop symptoms by day five should get tested. If you test positive, you should begin isolation. People who test negative may end quarantine and should continue to wear a well-fitting mask when around others for an additional five days."

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4

CDC Chief Said We Will Get More Viral Curveballs

Family after getting covid-19 vaccine.
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Walensky noted that things change as the virus changes. "Omicron is likely not to be the last curve ball this virus throws at us," she said, "but we have the tools to prevent for the spread of this virus. This means for everyone, five and older, please get vaccinated for those 12 and older, get your booster shot, and please continue to adhere to the multi-layered prevention measures, including masking and yes, washing your hands."

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5

How to Stay Safe Out There

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Follow the public health fundamentals and help end this pandemic, no matter where you live—get vaccinated or boosted 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.

Alek Korab
Alek Korab is a Co-Founder and Managing Editor of the ETNT Health channel on Eat This, Not That! Read more about Alek
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