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Surgeon General Just Issued This "Difficult" Warning

"We are certainly in a tough part of the wave right now," said Dr. Murthy. 
FACT CHECKED BY Emilia Paluszek

We are still in a pandemic: The U.S. has surpassed 800,000 COVID cases per day with more than 158,000 hospitalized COVID patients, most of the hospitalized unvaccinated. How can you stay safe? The U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy appeared on CNN's State of the Union yesterday with host Jake Tapper to explain just that. 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.


Surgeon General Warned "We Are in a Tough Part of the Wave Right Now"

Nurse is comforting a covid patient at the ICU

"Are we at the peak of this surge right now? Do you think, or if not, when do you think we should expect the peak to come?" asked Tapper."This is a very difficult time during this surge," answered Dr. Murthy. "We are seeing high case numbers and hospitalization rates. And we're also seeing strain in many of our hospitals around the country. But the good news is that there are parts of the country, New York in particular, and other parts of the Northeast, where we are starting to see a plateau. And in some cases, early declining cases. The challenge is that the country's not moving at the same pace. The Omicron wave started later in other parts of the country. So we shouldn't expect a national peak in the coming days. The next few weeks will be tough, but this is also why it's so important that we are sending resources to hospitals that are struggling. It's why it's so important that we all double down on precautions that we're taking. Because one thing that we're learning during this surge is that our vaccines are still working very well to keep people out of the hospital and to save their lives. It's why we encourage everyone to get vaccinated, to get boosted as soon as they can."

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Surgeon General Said Here's When You Can Get Your Free COVID Tests

Negative test result by using rapid test device for COVID-19, novel coronavirus

The Biden administration has ordered a billion COVID tests, which will be free to Americans. However, they may not reach you before you need them. "We have more work to do," admitted Murthy. "But it's important here that we also step back and look at the broader picture." He said Omicron caught many countries flat-footed on testing. And: "We have a billion tests that will become available to people that they can order through the website starting January 19th, we have 50 million tests we've sent to community health centers around the country and starting January 15th yesterday, people will be able to get coverage, private insurance coverage for up to eight tests per person per month, that they order. So all of these together will help us close the gap  in testing and make sure that everyone does in fact have a test who needs it."

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Surgeon General Said "Double Down" on These Tools to Fight Omicron

Concept of antiviral drug medication in hand for new COVID19 Coronavirus

Tapper mentioned research that showed at-home tests were available during only 9% of searches at online pharmacies. "We need to do more on testing," Murthy admitted again. "In addition to testing, there are other tools that are so important that people are aware of. We have more therapeutics this month that are available than at any other month or in the pandemic because of early the investments in treatments that were made. We have now oral and intravenous tests. We have more people vaccinated now than in any other point, more than 200 million fully vaccinated, and millions, more who are boosted. These are the tools that are gonna help keep people safe. We've gotta make sure people know about them. They" need to "double down on these tools during this Omicron wave." (Former FDA commissioner Scott Gottlieb mentioned he was able to find tests on Amazon without a problem.)

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Surgeon General Said Here's When to Get Your Booster

Doctor holding syringe in hospital.

"Here's what we see though, in the data. We see that if you've had your primary series, that's your two shots of Pfizer or Moderna or your one shot of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, but you still have a decent protection against hospitalization and death, but you increase that protection even more and increase your protection against all infection by getting that booster shot. So to anyone out there, you know who hasn't gotten boosted yet, if you're at your five month mark, after your primary series of Moderna or Pfizer, get boosted. If you're two months post Johnson & Johnson, please get boosted as soon as you can."

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How to Stay Safe Out There

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

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.

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
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