Virus Expert Says Here's What Your "New Normal" Will Look Like
CBS just reported that, according to a recent poll, "70% of Americans polled agreed… 'It is time we accept COVID is here to stay and we just need to get on with our lives'." But how do we "get on" with life when there is a potentially life-threatening virus at large? "We are not anywhere near the end of the pandemic," said Dr. Ashish Jha, Dean of the Brown University School of Public Health, on CBS Mornings today—but he did say what the future may look like, and how you can stay safe. Read on for 5 points of essential advice—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had COVID.
Dr. Jha Said Think of the Virus as Rain. When it Pours, Protect Yourself More
"I've been saying for weeks that as cases recede, we can soon relax public health restrictions," Jha tweeted yesterday. "I think of this like the weather. When it is bucketing rain: Umbrella, rain coat, boots, are all essential. When the storm turns into a drizzle, those become less critical."
"I've found that a lot of the kind of politicization of these public health measures has been really puzzling," Jha said on CBS. "I mean, when there is a major storm, we don't fight about whether you should take an umbrella, wear a rain coat, but when it stops raining turns to a little drizzle or stops raining altogether, it's fine to put away your rain coat. And that's basically the analogy I'm using. The Omicron surge was a massive thunderstorm, massive bucketing rain. It made a lot of sense to have masks. It made a lot of sense to be doing testing all the time. Obviously I believe everybody should be vaccinated, but what we're seeing is cases come down, they're down about 50% from their peak. My expectation is that the next couple of weeks cases are gonna really go down much, much further."
"And at that point," he continued, "it's reasonable with relatively few infections in the community to pull back and say, indoor masking requirements are not gonna be there. That the indoor gathering restrictions are not gonna be there. Obviously we'll all still have the protection of our vaccines and the one, there are two reasons to do it. One is I think people need a reprieve. And the second is if there is a large surge in the future, we wanna be able to go back to people and say, Hey, another storm coming, put on that rain coat, grab your rain gear and let's get through the next storm. That's I think how we manage this virus."
Dr. Jha Said This is What It'd Take for Him to Declare the Pandemic "Over"
"One is, I wanna get to a point where hospitals are not getting filled up to a point where we can't take care of people with heart attacks and strokes and appendicitis—we are not there yet," said Dr. Jha. "I also wanna get to a point where 2,000 Americans are not dying every day. So we are not anywhere near the end of the pandemic, just based on those metrics alone. I agree once it is at a point where for most people it is a mild illness that will make an enormous difference. You know, there isn't a single point where 'The pandemic is over.' The pandemic will fade into the background and matter less and less—the more we get people immunized. And the more we really begin to manage this virus."
Dr. Jha Said Here's a New Idea About How to Mask Yourself
"As people can choose their risk tolerance more and more, what do you know about so-called one way masking, meaning most people may choose not to wear a mask, but if you're particularly compromised, you'd wear wine to protect yourself," as the CBS Mornings host. "This is actually a really important point," said Dr. Jha. "If you wear a high quality mask, an N95, you can protect yourself under pretty much circumstances. When I think about when I've been in the hospital, taking care of sick patients with COVID, I'm wearing an N95 and they're not, the patients are not necessarily wearing masks. And yet I know that I am protected by that. And of course I'm protected by my vaccine. So for me to compromise people for people who are worried about getting sick, wearing a high quality mask, provides an enormous amount of protection against getting infected."
Dr. Jha Cheered a Vaccine for Kids Under 5
Pfizer has applied for approval for it's vaccine for kids under 5 years old. "I have a lot of friends who are parents of young kids, kids under five, and for them it's a huge game changer, right?" said Jha. "It makes an enormous difference for them in terms of knowing that their kids are protected and reducing their anxiety. I do expect that authorization to happen in the next month or so. I'm really looking forward to it. I think it'll help a lot."
How to Stay Safe Out There
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.