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Virus Expert Just Issued This "Very Infectious" Warning

Here are 5 things you need to know right now.
FACT CHECKED BY Emilia Paluszek

It's understandable that you're annoyed, frustrated, scared and tired: COVID-19 has thrown everyone a "curveball," according to virus expert Michael Osterholm, when speaking with GMA3, as the "more transmissible" Delta variant is infecting both unvaccinated people (making many very ill or dead) and vaccinated people (who are less likely to get severely ill but can still pass along the virus). How can you stay safe? Osterholm, Director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota, revealed 5 things you need to know. Read on for each one—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

Virus Expert Warned That More Mutations May Arise

Scientist working in the laboratory
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The CEO of Pfizer said this week he expects more mutations of COVID. "Well, it's surely possible," said Osterholm. "I think everything we're looking at right now should cause us to have a great deal of humility because this virus has surely thrown us curve balls. But right now, for example, with the Delta virus, we don't see evidence of that actually evading the immune protection of the [vaccinated] individual. We surely can see that your protection may wane over six to eight months, which would then come into play with the booster. It is so really very, very infectious so that we're seeing that in some people likely that are the breakthrough cases. These are people that the level of virus they inhaled was just so large that it overwhelmed the protection of what the vaccine could provide. Now, remember, these people still generally have much, much milder illness, but they still get infected." That's why it's so important to get vaccinated. Keep reading for what the next few months may look like.

2

Virus Expert Said the Next Few Months May Look Like This

Female and male doctors wearing masks and uniforms are visiting to check the symptoms of middle-aged female patients lying in bed.
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What will the next few months look like? "Unfortunately, it's not clear. If we look at the patterns of how Delta has emerged around the rest of the world, we see these very rapid bursts in cases and big surge. Like we're seeing in the United States right now. And then a rather rapid descent in cases, meaning that they dropped precipitously, but they never go back to baseline. A good example is the United Kingdom. They started out at 1,000 cases a day reported, during the peak, they got to 47,000 cases a day, and then the number dropped rapidly, but it hit 26,000 and leveled off there. And today it's at 32,000. So we're not quite sure what is going to do in this country. The states that have been hit the hardest and the ones that are probably really at their peak about right now only make up 12% of the US population. And so the other 88% of the population are still really a 'too early to call' kind of situation—where we're seeing in the Northwest, we're seeing in the Southeast, we're seeing in the upper Midwest: They're at the beginning of these rises in cases. The question will be, how high will they go? For the next six to eight weeks, this is going to be a 'stay tuned' moment."

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

3

Virus Expert Says Avoid These Masks

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"So what kind of masks should we be wearing and what kind should we be avoiding?" asked the GMA3 host. "Well, remember, anytime we were trying to do any kind of respiratory protection with a face cloth covering surgical mask, what we call an N95 mask or respirators, you're looking at two different issues," said Osterholm. "You're looking at fit and filtration. Fit is how well does it fit around your face? How tight is it? If you have any leaks—that's like having swim goggles that leak. How good is the filtration—that is important because if you do breathe air through a cloth or through a type of material, how well is the air able to move through it so that you will actually continue to wear that—whatever covering that is you're using."

RELATED: You'll Now Need a Vaccine to Enter Here

4

Virus Expert Says Wear This Kind of Mask if You Can

Brunette woman wearing a KN95 FPP2 mask.
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"One of the things we're urging people look at using N95s, these types of masks that actually have electrostatic charges in the material, meaning that there's a way to catch the virus. The size of the spaces in the mask are large enough to let you breathe easily. I couldn't have made this recommendation a year ago because we didn't have enough for our healthcare workers let alone for the public today, we have more than an adequate supply. So wherever we can use N95s or KN95, for all ages, if possible."

RELATED: Dr. Fauci Just Said When We'd Be Back to "Normal"

5

How to Stay Safe Out There

Woman getting COVID-19 vaccine shot.
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Follow the public health fundamentals and help end this pandemic, no matter where you live—get vaccinated 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