The information about Omicron is confusing and might even seem discouraging. This week, a record 1.3 million new daily cases were reported. Both Dr. Anthony Fauci and the acting FDA commissioner said that almost everyone will get COVID. Luckily, experts agree that Omicron is causing milder illness. So how should you deal with the surge? Here’s what the experts advise doing now, so you’ll surface on the other side of the Omicron wave as healthy as possible. 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.
“While some of these variants have been shown to evade vaccines to some extent, research shows even with the breakthrough infection, vaccinated people aren’t as likely to get as sick with COVID 19,” said Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN’s chief medical correspondent, recently. “So if you haven’t been vaccinated, get vaccinated now. And the CDC says all adults should also get a booster shot six months after the second dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine or two months after a single dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.”
With the pandemic entering its 23rd month, pandemic fatigue is acute. Some might figure, since Omicron is so contagious, and almost everyone is likely to contract it, why not just get it and be done with it? Experts say that’s unwise. In a recent Washington Post column, public health expert Dr. Leana Wen gave four reasons why:
- Hospitals are packed, and if you get very sick, beds may not be available
- Even mild COVID can feel awful
- You may infect others, including people vulnerable for severe disease
- While antiviral treatments are on the way, they won’t be widely available for weeks at the earliest.
“I agree that sooner or later everyone will be exposed, but later is better,” virus expert Michel Nussenzweig of Rockefeller University told Reuters on Wednesday. “Why? Because later we will have better and more available medicines and better vaccines.”
Have you upgraded from a cloth mask yet? Experts say they’re not sufficiently protective against and Omicron, and now is the time to switch to a high-quality mask (meaning an N95, KN95, KF94, or FFP2) which can block 94% to 95% of particles if fitted correctly. If those aren’t available, infectious-disease specialist Dr. Monica Gandhi advises wearing a multilayered cloth mask fitted snugly over a surgical mask. Surgical masks are made of polypropylene, which electrostatically catches virus particles and prevents you from inhaling them.
“In addition to vaccination, social distancing remains an important part of protection from Omicron,” Suneet Singh, MD, an emergency room physician in Austin, Texas, said on Wednesday. “If possible, try to maintain a safe distance of at least six feet apart from others, minimizing physical contact and wearing an appropriately fitting mask to reduce the risk of [getting] COVID.” Singh also advises getting a PCR test within 48 hours of attending a gathering, particularly if you’ll be around anyone who’s at high risk of COVID-related complications. That can detect whether you have an asymptomatic infection.
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.