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CDC Chief Just Warned of These COVID Symptoms

Long COVID is real, and vaccinates may help prevent it.
FACT CHECKED BY Emilia Paluszek

One of the most damaging effects of COVID-19 is that for many people, even after a mild infection, certain terrible symptoms never go away. Yesterday on SiriusXM Doctor Radio's "Doctor Radio Reports," CDC Director Rochelle Walensky spoke with show host Dr. Marc Siegel about how the CDC works with pandemic data, in real time, and discussed Long COVID, as well as how long you should quarantine if you get COVID—she also talks about masks. 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.


CDC Chief Warned of "Long COVID"

Woman lying at bed.

"So much of our messaging on vaccines and what we think is motivating people is to stay out of the hospital and to not die from this disease. But of course, getting COVID itself, first of all is hard. It's hard on families. It's hard to isolate. It's hard to think about how the implications of infecting others, who you care about within your families. And then of course there is this challenge of Long COVID. The brain fog, the long term manifestations, the fatigue, the headaches, the things that people have been talking about. And interestingly, there are now are emerging data that suggests vaccine prevent that too. You may mentioned one out of Israel. It's interesting to think about the pathway by which that might happen. First of all, we believe that severe disease may be more likely to lead to COVID in the long term, that you're more likely to get Long COVID if you have been hospitalized. So maybe it's also the case that by preventing severe disease, even if you were to get infected, you actually prevent the long term manifestations of COVID. But I think this Israel study, again, not yet peer reviewed is a foreshadowing of other data that are likely to emerge that demonstrate that the benefits of vaccination are not just keeping you out of the hospital, keeping you preventing you from dying, but also all of these other ancillary effects, like Long COVID," said Walensky.

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CDC Chief Clarifies the CDC's Post-COVID, 5-Day Isolation Recommendations

woman wearing a face mask and peeking out from blinds

"So the first thing I would say is they get COVID, they get sick, they have symptoms, they get a test. And the question five days later is, are you feeling better? Do you have a fever? Do you still have a cough? Are you feeling better? If you're feeling better on day six then I would say it's safe to come out of isolation as long as you're really reliable about wearing your mask. And that means even wearing your mask at home, not necessarily dining with others in close quarters in your home. It also means reliably wearing your mask outside of the home given that you might have a little bit of infectiousness left, it means perhaps not going to visit an immunocompromised relative and or an elderly relative. But if you're wearing a mask, we do think you can go back to grocery shopping. We think you can safely go back to work as long as you're wearing your mask and you're asymptomatic.

We say that because we have years of data now that have demonstrated with COVID, that you're maximally infectious in those day or two prior to symptoms and your two or three days after symptoms. So by day six, after your symptoms, we really do think you may have some infectiousness left, but it's not as nearly as much as that early period of time. Now, as you note, some people may have access to a test, may want to test at that day five day six day, and if so, then we just want to make sure that people are interpreting those tests correctly. So if you have a positive test, we would say, stay home for another five days. But if you have a negative test, we want to be very clear that that doesn't mean that you don't need to wear your mask. You still do need to wear your mask for those last five days," she said. 

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CDC Chief Said Here's the Best Mask

Medic, nurse with face mask and blue nitride gloves sharing a N95 mask.


"We have been saying since March of 2020, that masks prevent COVID right? That they prevent transmission. What we've done this time is to sort of articulate first and foremost, wear a mask. Any mask is better than no mask, and we want you to make sure that you can wear it and that you're comfortable in it. Of course, a comfortable mask that has two layers, a wire over the nose that is well fitted is a good mask to start at baseline. But we also know from much science over the last two years, that they're masks that actually are better at fit and filtration than just that plain cloth mask. And that includes our respirators like our KN95s and our N95s. So those are better at filtration. There's data that demonstrates that, but it's also the case that the better they are with filtration, the harder they are to wear for longer periods of time is I'm sure you could probably attest to. An N95 all day long is pretty hard to tolerate for many people. And so what we want to say is, make sure you can wear your mask, and if you're in a situation where you want a mask that has better filtration capacity, pick an N95 or a KN95, and just make sure it's fitted well."

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CDC Chief Explained How The CDC Works With Pandemic Data, In Real Time

Two doctors wearing personal personal protective equipment

"We have assembled the data. We've tried to provide it in real time, but often time the data lag. As you're trying to assemble exactly what happened in a prior flu season, just as you note, but in a pandemic, our responsibility, I feel is a bit different. And I think our agency has embraced this responsibility to say, what are the data that we have now? What are the decisions that we have to make now, even though the data may be gray, the data may be emerging, the data may be imperfect, but we are about to encounter, for example, an Omicron wave. And we need to understand what's the information that we have now. What's the epidemiology that we're about to face and what's implementable so that we can make real time decisions, even in the absence of sometimes perfect data."

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CDC Chief Opens Up About The Need To Improve The COVID-Vaccination Situation In America & Around The World

Man being vaccinated by a nurse in an Indian's mass vaccination site.

"We have work yet to do in vaccinating this country. I'll just remind folks that our children are less vaccinated than our adults. We talked about that earlier. But we have donated now 360 million vaccines around the world to over 110 countries. We've just hit the 50% mark of the world being primarily vaccinated, but importantly, there are real discrepancies across the globe and the work of what we need to do and have been doing is to continue not just to donate vaccines, but to make sure that those countries that have not yet have high vaccination rates have the capacity to the healthcare workforce, the data systems and all that is needed to well vaccinate. And that is a critical next step. And as I've frequently said, no one can be safe until the world is safe," she said. As for yourself, get vaccinated or boosted ASAP 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