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Virus Expert Just Issued This Essential COVID Update

Don’t throw that mask away just yet.
FACT CHECKED BY Alek Korab

The US is experiencing yet another COVID-19 surge—but how worried should people be? White House COVID-19 response coordinator Dr. Ashish Jha appeared on The View to explain what he thinks will happen next with the pandemic. Read on—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had COVID.

1

Is This Surge Different?

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"Let's talk about this surge. It does feel different," says Dr. Jha. "The question is why? It's because people are not landing in the hospital at the same rates. People are not getting into the ICU and thankfully people are not dying at the same rate. So that's awesome progress."

2

Why Is This Surge Different?

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"So how did we get there? Did that just happen automatically? No," says Dr. Jha. "Lots of Americans got vaccinated and boosted—people need to get that booster. We've done a lot of work. I am trying to make sure people get treatments—Paxlovid is out there, so people who get infected can take it and that keeps them out of the hospital."

3

Cases Are Up, But Deaths Are Low

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"Our job is to make sure—look, cases are gonna go up, cases are going to go down—we've got to make sure people are not getting super sick. That takes work. And that's what we're focused on," says Dr. Jha. "Death numbers are really low. And again, we want to drive it even lower. We're not done. But we're making real progress on this."

4

Will Mask Mandates Come Back?

Healthcare expert greeting someone during a conference call and wearing protective face mask due to COVID-19 pandemic.

"Masking works. If you wear a high quality mask, you protect yourself, you protect others," says Dr. Jha.  "You know, with mandates I've believed for the whole last two years that mandates are local decisions made by local officials. Why? The circumstances of every city, every state are different. People are different. People's tolerance of these things is different. So I think you're going to see some places put mandates in. I think other places are not going to do that. What we know is that now we have plenty of masks available, people can go out and protect themselves. I don't think we're gonna see anything uniform across America. We're a pretty big diverse country. You're going to see a lot of different policies in different places."

5

What About Vaccines For Babies?

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"If women get COVID during pregnancy they can get really sick, so getting vaccinated during pregnancy is a huge thing," says Dr. Jha. "I understand it's scary, but we know vaccines are safe in pregnancy and they make an enormous difference. What about the nine month old? Now what about the baby? The FDA and CDC are looking at the data right now. The data on kids five and above is really clear: Kids are better off getting protected. That's why I have three kids, all of whom have gotten vaccinated and boosted. Under five, we're going to learn more in the next couple of weeks. I don't want to prejudge that outcome, right? Because they're going to make the determination, but my expectation is we're going to see pretty compelling evidence that your nine month old is better off getting vaccinated. Two shots, three shots, we don't know yet. Let's just wait and see what the recommendations from the FDA and CDC are. And then we'll follow from there."

6

Should All Children Be Vaccinated?

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"It's true that kids don't get as sick as adults do when they get COVID," says Dr. Jha. "But what we know is that some kids do end up getting sick. Some kids do end up in the hospital even, and vaccines are terrific at preventing serious illness even for kids. So in that context to me, and we also know that vaccines are incredibly safe, this is why we got our kids vaccinated. By the way, every doctor I know, every pediatrician I know has gotten their kids vaccinated. And so it's not just like what, what's the talk here? It's like people are walking the walk, right? What I say to parents is that you should look at the data. You should talk to your pediatrician. You should talk to your family practitioner, and get advice from them because those are the people you trust to take care of your kids. That's who you should be getting advice from. I think the evidence here is clear. Kids should be getting vaccinated."

7

How to Stay Safe Out There

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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.

 

Ferozan Mast
Ferozan Mast is a science, health and wellness writer with a passion for making science and research-backed information accessible to a general audience. Read more about Ferozan