Staying safe as COVID-19 cases rise with highly contagious Omicron variant
What you need to know to stay safe as COVID-19 cases rise across the U.S.
The recent surge in COVID-19 cases, driven by the highly transmissible Omicron variant, leaves many vaccinated Americans wondering how to stay safe and prevent infection. This includes for travel, social gatherings and more.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has updated its recommendation that fully vaccinated people wear a mask indoors in public while in areas where COVID-19 is spreading. Vaccinated people should also continue to follow physical distancing guidelines and check other safety protocols required by federal, state, local, tribal or territorial laws, rules and regulations, including local business and workplace guidance.
Omicron variant and vaccine effectiveness
The Omicron variant is less severe in general but spreads more easily than other variants. The recent surge in cases has led to an increase in hospitalizations, however deaths have decreased and the recent numbers are nowhere near the peak from the past year. The CDC data from April shows that unvaccinated people have 1.5 times more risk in contracting the virus and 17 times more risk of death from COVID-19. The best protection from COVID-19 is to be fully vaccinated and boosted, however no vaccines are 100% effective at preventing illness.
Immunizations aren’t just for kids
Even adults need to consider getting immunizations. If you haven’t yet been vaccinated and boosted against COVID-19, it’s important do to so. To find a location near you, check vaccinefinder.org. But it’s also important to check with your primary care provider to confirm you are current with other immunizations. Vaccines help protect us from preventable diseases and in many cases have eliminated disease, like measles and polio in global communities with high vaccination rates.
Testing to help slow the spread
Testing is a critical component of public health and safety. There are more tests available now, a great tool that can help slow the spread of the virus. The federal government is offering every home in the U.S. free at-home OTC COVID-19 tests, which can be ordered online from the United States Postal Service. You can also visit Regence’s COVID-19 resources page to learn about testing, vaccines and more.
Travel for vaccinated people
Check with the public health authorities of wherever you are traveling to learn about local mandates and recommendations. It is also important to know the community’s vaccination rate and reported cases, which will help you decide how to best protect yourself. You can check COVID-19 community levels on the CDC website. Although travel by air, bus and train no longer requires wearing a mask in most areas, it is recommended that you wear one to lower the risk of infection. The longer the travel, the more exposure and risk.
Getting the gang back together
For many people, summer months usually mean social events like barbecues, leisurely get-togethers, family reunions and weddings. We all want to enjoy our favorite summer activities—and we still can in most cases, as long as we’re flexible and plan ahead for everyone’s safety.
It’s best to choose an outdoor activity like a backyard barbeque or outdoor seating at a restaurant. Consider masking up when indoors and share an elbow-bump rather than a hug. If you are attending a crowded public event, it is wise to mask up. The CDC recommends wearing a well-fitting mask to lower the odds of contracting the virus, including highly effective N95/KN95 masks.
Stay summertime safe and social
Keeping ourselves and others healthy is the top priority. So, be creative and innovative while planning your summertime fun with family and friends. Enjoy your time together—and stay safe.