As SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, continues to circulate globally, use of vaccine- and infection induced immunity [having a positive COVID test/infection] and the availability of effective treatments and prevention tools have substantially reduced the risk for severe acute illness and post–COVID-19 conditions that requires hospitalization or dying.
The CDC is now focusing on long term measures to further reduce the medical impact of COVID-19 on your health, the strain on the health care system, while reducing barriers to social [people getting together], educational [attending schools, colleges], and economic activity [getting back into the workplace].
Individual risk for medically significant COVID-19 [getting very sick with COVID-19] depends on a person’s risk for exposure [ i.e., where you go and with whom you are in close contact with] to COVID-19. The risk for developing severe illness if infected will depend much on your immunity status, age, disability status, and underlying medical conditions [i.e., diabetes, cancers, HIV, obesity, hypertension].
But these risks are considerably reduced by immunity derived from vaccination, previous infection, or both. Exposure risk can be mitigated [make less severe] through nonpharmaceutical interventions such as:
· Staying 6 feet apart, wearing a mask especially in crowded/or and indoor places, and when you cannot distance yourself or using respirators indoors
· Washing your hands frequently for 20 seconds (sing Happy Birthday twice)
· Improving ventilation by opening windows or door or using extractor fans
· Testing - if you begin to experience symptoms of COVID such as:
o Headache, cough, congestion or runny nose, sore throat
o Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
o fever, chills, body aches, fatigue
o new loss of taste or smell
o nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea with more than 4 or 5 runny stools in a day
· Timely access to effective biomedical prevention measures and treatments includes calling your health care provider [doctor, nurse practitioner, physician assistant] and reporting your symptoms. Many will offer you an online office visit, arrange further testing if needed and provide medication and/or referral to a hospital.
As individuals, you are now responsible for the assessing your COVID health status and followings up on any symptoms, and for making COVID-19 less of a threat to self and community.
The government has removed the test to stage [testing to find out if you are positive/negative and to determine when to return to work/school]. Instead, we are advised to wear a high-quality mask for 10 days and test on or after day #5.
This Synopsis is taken from the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR), August,11, 2022. Written for increased understanding by Dr. Colleen Kilgore