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The COVID Rules Everyone Should Follow, Says CDC

To say safe, here are the essential things to do now.

The COVID pandemic is in transition, and advice on prevention might be changing soon, said CDC director Dr. Rochelle Walensky in Wednesday's White House coronavirus task force briefing. "Omicron cases are declining, and we are all cautiously optimistic about the trajectory we are on," she said. "Things are moving in the right direction, but we want to remain vigilant to do all we can so that this trajectory continues." She acknowledged that many people may have "questions regarding what prevention strategies are really necessary for this moment." As of right now, here's what Walensky and other experts advise to keep yourself safe from COVID. 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.


Consider Hospital Capacity

Patient arriving at medical clinic and being called by the doctor using face mask.

The CDC currently advises everyone to wear a face mask in public when you're in areas of substantial or high community transmission of COVID. Walensky said the CDC may revise that guidance, acknowledging that many people are eager to move on. However, she said that some factors are important to keep in mind going forward when considering if you should wear a mask. One of them is hospital capacity in your area.

"We must consider hospital capacity as an additional important barometer," said Walensky. "Our hospitals need to be able to take care of people with heart attacks and strokes. Our emergency departments can't be so overwhelmed that patients with emergent issues have to wait in line." 

You can check hospital capacity in your county via this map by the University of Minnesota COVID-19 Hospitalization Tracking Project. 


Wear a Mask in These Situations, No Matter What

Woman in mask and red coat in the subway.

"Regardless of the level of disease burden in your community, there are still very important times to continue to wear your mask," said Walensky. These include:

  • If you have COVID symptoms or are feeling unwell
  • If you're in the 10 days after a COVID diagnosis
  • If you've been exposed to someone with COVID-19 and are quarantining


Get Vaccinated and Boosted


"We all share the same goal: To get to a point where COVID 19 is no longer disrupting our daily lives, a time when it won't be a constant crisis, rather something we can prevent, protect against and treat," said Walensky. "Moving from this pandemic will be a process led by science and epidemiologic trends, and one that relies on the power tools we already have, including vaccines, boosters, testing, and treatment."


Ask About Antiviral Treatments

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The treatments Walensky referred to include monoclonal antibodies and antiviral medications, which have been found to reduce the risk of severe illness, hospitalization and death from COVID if taken soon after infection. One form of monoclonal antibodies—sotrovimab—has been found to be effective against the Omicron variant. Two effective antiviral medications—including Paxlovid and molnupiravir—are in limited but increasing supply. If you test positive for COVID, the best move is to call your doctor and ask if you can benefit from these treatments.


How to Stay Safe Out There

Young woman close-up portrait while wearing face mask.

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. Read more about Michael