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Virus Expert Sounds Alarm Over New Surges

Think of the vaccine like a raincoat. Get one, but also wear a mask, says Dr. Wen.
FACT CHECKED BY Emilia Paluszek

The COVID-19 pandemic can seem to some like it's in the rear-view mirror, especially in much of America. Stores are open. Ball games are played. The President just threw a big 4th of July party to celebrate our "independence from the virus." Just one problem: COVID hasn't gone away yet, and it could surge with vengeance. Dr. Leana Wen, the former Baltimore Health Commissioner, appeared on CNN this morning with a warning, echoing the "wake up call" that other experts have issued in recent days. Read on for five pieces of guidance that take a minute to read but could save your life—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You Have "Long" COVID and May Not Even Know It.


Virus Expert Warned We Will See Spikes and Surges—Some Even Where You Live

Nurse in hospital examining all the parameters

"We can look at the national numbers and maybe the level of infection might even look steady or might even look like they're going in a good direction, but there still could be regional hotspots," said Wen. "And in fact, that's exactly what we're seeing now. And so I think the effort needs to be more of a ground game. We need to be deploying resources as the White House is doing to areas of highest need, but we also have to recognize that what causes a danger in one part of the country could very well affect the rest of the country as well, that we're not an island in and of ourselves." 


Virus Expert Warned We Could Have Other Variants Arising Over Time

Asian microbiologist biotechnology researcher using microscope in the lab.

"The Delta variant is more transmissible, but we could have other variants arising over time, too, that are even worse. In some ways it could even invade the protection of our vaccines."


Virus Expert Said We Are Not Close to Herd Immunity

Check-in for coronavirus vaccination against Covid-19 with doctor in the background.

"I don't think we're that close to herd immunity and the reason I believe that is we're seeing surges in so many parts of the country. If we actually were at herd immunity due to vaccination or recovery from coronavirus, then we wouldn't have these huge surges that were seen in Missouri, Arkansas, Wyoming, Nevada, so many parts of the country. And so I think at this point, we need to acknowledge that we're at a plateau when it comes to vaccinations. A lot of people who will have wanted to be vaccinated they're vaccinated. There are people who are hesitant for whatever reason. Of course we need to work on the ground game of doctors, community, health workers, people who are trusted in different areas. Yes, they should be working on getting those individuals vaccinated. But I think we have to take more drastic action and the Biden administration needs to also acknowledge that what they're doing in terms of increasing vaccinations is no longer effective."

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Virus Expert Said Here's Why Some People are Vaccine Hesitant—And How to Solve It 

Female doctor or nurse trying to give shot or vaccine against virus to a scared patient.

Wen said she sees patients who are not vaccinated. "These are not anti-vaxxers," she said. "I mean, certainly that exists, but the people that I'm seeing in Baltimore, and I'm sure it all across the country, too, they have questions, they have concerns. They also are not certain that COVID-19 is a real threat anymore because restrictions have been lifted. They can go back to doing whatever they wanted anyway. And I think that it takes a conversation, but it takes sustained conversation, not just once at a visit, but maybe a phone call afterwards, maybe a check-in when they come back with their diabetes or hypertension checkup. I mean, those are the things that have to occur. And one thing that the federal government can do to encourage these conversations is to reimburse for them. These conversations take time and it takes away from other things that the doctors have to be doing it. And so reimbursing for those critical acts and conversations as well."

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Virus Expert Said Think of the Vaccine Like a Raincoat. In a Rainstorm, You'll Want Even More Protection.

Nurse with face mask sitting at home with senior woman and injecting covid 19 vaccine.


Wen recommends wearing a mask even if you're vaccinated. "I would. And here's the reason why: if you are vaccinated, you are very well protected from becoming severely ill. You're also protected from getting ill and potentially transmitting the virus to other people, but you're not a hundred percent protected. And you can think about it this way—that the vaccine is a very good raincoat. And so if you're in an area that's drizzling, you're probably fine. But if you're going to another area with a thunderstorm, maybe you need something else—a mask, if you will, on top of that. And so I do think that masks remain a powerful tool. In addition to the vaccine, if we're in an area of high community, transmission and low vaccine." So get vaccinated when it becomes available to you, 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