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What the New "COVID Warning" Means for You

This virus continues to evolve.
FACT CHECKED BY Emilia Paluszek

This week, the Biden administration warned that the country may see up to 100 million COVID-19 infections this fall and winter. "We're looking at a range of models, both internal and external models, and what they're predicting is that if we don't get ahead of this thing, we're going to have a lot of waning immunity, this virus continues to evolve, and we may see a pretty sizable wave of infections, hospitalizations and deaths this fall and winter," Dr. Ashish Jha, the White House COVID-19 Response coordinator, said on ABC's This Week on Sunday. So what should we make of this information? Read on to find out more—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had COVID.

1

"Take Heed," Virus Expert Says

Woman wearing face mask looking at camera showing thumbs up after getting the covid-19 vaccine.
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"​​I think it's an extremely important warning that everybody in the United States, whether you're unvaccinated or vaccinated and boosted, should certainly take heed of because we've been in this rodeo before and we know what to do," Dr. Syra Madad, an epidemiologist at NYC Health + Hospitals, told CNN on Monday. "We have the tools and resources to protect ourselves and protect those around us. It's important that people are aware that the risk level around them is increasing. And so there are things that you can do to reduce your risk of getting infected, and certainly having a severe outcome."

2

"Continue to Be Cautious"

woman in a hospital waiting room - wearing face mask
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Experts advise continuing with life but exercising the recommended precautions. "We need to just continue to be cautious. I think that we can do all the things that we love doing, but doing so in a safer manner, knowing that there's much more virus in the community," said Madad. "I think really understanding it from the standpoint of: You shouldn't want to get infected. You shouldn't want to get sick, even if it's something that's manageable. For me, I think it's also the risk of long COVID. I'm not necessarily afraid of getting infected with the virus, even though I am still avoiding it. I am still masking in large indoor gatherings because I just don't want to get sick. I am actually afraid of long COVID. I don't know what the repercussions will look like in the long term."

3

Stay Apprised of CDC Community Transmission Map

Close-up of a businesswoman with face mask making a phone call over mobile phone while working in the office and looking at camera.
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According to the CDC's official updated guidelines, you should wear a face mask in public in areas where community spread of COVID is high. The agency has a color-coded map on its website. Green denotes low spread, yellow is medium, and red is high. In the green zone, facial masks aren't recommended (although anyone can wear one if they choose). In yellow areas, you should talk with your doctor about whether you should mask or take other precautions. 

4

Who Is Eligible for Boosters Now?

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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Experts say that the best way to prevent severe illness, hospitalization, and death from COVID is to be fully vaccinated and get boosters as recommended. The CDC recommends that all Americans older than 12 should get a booster dose after completing their primary vaccination series. In addition, it's recommended that people older than 50, people with certain immunocompromising conditions, or those who got two doses of a Johnson & Johnson vaccine, get a second booster dose ASAP. These second booster doses are important because immunity against the virus wanes several months after the first booster. 

5

How to Stay Safe Out There

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Follow the 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.

Michael Martin
Michael Martin is a New York City-based writer and editor whose health and lifestyle content has also been published on Beachbody and Openfit. A contributing writer for Eat This, Not That!, he has also been published in New York, Architectural Digest, Interview, and many others. Read more