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I'm a Doctor and Here's How to Not Catch Delta

Advice from an immunology expert.
FACT CHECKED BY Alek Korab

We are tired of the COVID-19 pandemic, and some of us just want our pre-COVID lives back. But with the Delta variant on the rise, there's only one smart thing to do: Do Not Catch Delta. 

The national outlook is looking grim with a fourfold increase in new cases per day over the last thirty days. Hospitalizations and deaths are also growing and 97% of hospitalized patients with the coronavirus have not been vaccinated.

A NEJM research paper suggests that immunized people can develop Long COVID. While we are still learning more about the long-lasting effects of the coronavirus infection, remember: Getting vaccinated is important, but avoiding infection is essential as well. 

Most breakthrough cases were mild, some asymptomatic, but 19% developed long COVID with symptoms lasting >6 weeks. Long COVID symptoms can vary from fatigue to incapacitating brain fog. 

While prevalence at 12 weeks post SARS-CoV-2 infection is uncertain, estimates range from 2.3%-37% in those infected. Masks offer protection against infection, and the vaccines protect people from developing severe disease and death. Read on for the proven wats to avoid Delta—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.

1

Get Fully Vaccinated

Female doctor or nurse giving shot or vaccine to a patient's shoulder. Vaccination and prevention against flu or virus pandemic.
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Immunizations have been the best medicines humans ever created. The United States has two vaccines that currently have a 95 percent mortality decrease. This is far superior to every other strategy we've tried to avoid hospitalizations and deaths so far. Beyond the reduction in mortality for the person who has been vaccinated, if infected the disease is milder. Get fully vaccinated to protect yourself from death and disease. 

2

Wear N95 or KN95 Masks

Brunette woman wearing a KN95 FPP2 mask.
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"I think this has been a difficult message for many of us—what kind of mask you're using," Dr. Michael Osterholm, Director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota, told Meet the Press. As for regular old cloth masks: "You know, I would tell you if the old car you have has seatbelts, and that's it, use it. But if you can get a modern car that has a seat belt harness, a collapsible body frame, airbags, a computer system to reduce your speed with an impending crash and shard glass so you don't get cut, use that. And we've not paid any attention really to giving the public the message that you need much more effective masking such as the N95 masks that we talk about, or the KN95 for kids. Masking is very important right now. Remember, while vaccination is still the number one, two, and three weapons we have, if even everyone got vaccinated today, the search would go on as it is right now for the next four to six weeks, because these people would not yet have immunity. So what they can do today though, is mask."
3

Avoid Indoors

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Many cities are now issuing mask mandates and some don't know what to do. Masks are one of the most disputed articles in history but also can save lives. They prevent you from an infection. Yes, masks work but some are better than others. They should keep your nose and mouth from being exposed to the coronavirus. The virus is in the air, so if the air you are breathing is not being filtered by the mask, you are exposed. Preventing Delta requires a good quality mask. Bandanas and simple cloth masks are not very good at protecting. To prevent yourself from this respiratory virus, the best strategy is to wear a mask at all times outside your house. 

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4

Don't Share Quarters

female friends in kitchen preparing together vegetarian meal
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Given the outbreaks in Provincetown, the CDC changed its guidance. 

One of the many problems in those clusters was that many were sharing dormitories and bedrooms with folks from all over the country. It's understandable, given the previous quarantining guidance that folks were excited to travel. But avoid sharing your bedroom with others. Humans usually sleep eight hours a day, and that time you will spend breathing with someone else. If they are carrying the virus, you will likely catch it. 

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5

Avoid Public Spaces

Yes, parties are fun and outdoor venues during the summer sound perfect. But cases of the coronavirus are stretching the healthcare system. What it means is that the Country cannot afford another overload of cases. Close contact with humans is how the virus jumps and continues to live. It goes from one person to the other, from mouth to nose, from nose to nose, from mouth to mouth. It's even possible to catch it through the eyes. Events are usually crowded, and as we observed from Lollapalooza, there was an ocean of unmasked people. For that reason, even if the event is outdoors, best to avoid it for now.

Remember: #maskup #avoidindoors #avoidpublicspaces #getvaccinated #wearagoodmask

Leo Nissola, MD
Leo Nissola, M.D. is an award-winning immunologist and scientist. Follow him on Instagram @DoctorLeo and on Twitter @LeoNissolaMD. Read more