Turning the Corner with COVID-19
Case numbers and hospitalization levels have plummeted, reaching their lowest levels since last summer. Three-fourths of U.S. adults are now fully vaccinated with a growing number of people getting boosted. Rapid tests are finally widely available. Indoor mask mandates are being dropped across all 50 states. And life-saving therapeutics, including new anti-viral pills, are growing in supply.
As we get back to some semblance of normalcy, we want to be sure to do it safely.
In late February, the CDC announced new community-level guidance for mask-wearing and other preventive steps, based on the total number of new cases in an area, hospital admissions and hospital bed use. Under the updated guidance, more than 70% of the U.S. population is in a location with low or medium COVID-19 community levels. For those areas, there is no recommendation for indoor masking unless you are at potential increased risk for the virus and its complications. In that case, the CDC recommends talking to your health care provider.
To stay aware of COVID-19 levels in your community, many local news outlets feature COVID trackers on their websites, or you can go to the CDC Data Tracker. Also, check any travel destination to see if it’s a high transmission area.
COVID-19 Vaccines, Boosters and Tests
It’s never too late to get vaccinated, and if you’re already fully vaccinated, be sure to get a booster shot. If your initial vaccine was Pfizer or Moderna, you need a booster five months after your second dose. If you had the J&J vaccine, you need a booster two months after your initial shot. Remember, it’s okay if your booster isn’t the same “brand” as your original vaccine.
As vaccines and treatments are continually improving, it’s important to stay up to date on the latest recommendations from the CDC. And it’s a good idea to keep at-home tests on hand in the event that you are exposed to COVID-19 or are experiencing symptoms. That way, you can quickly take the necessary steps to protect your health and avoid exposing others.
As a reminder, U.S. residents can order up to 2 sets of four free at-home test kits per household through the government website. Additionally, the federal government announced in January that private health insurance companies are required to cover the cost of up to eight over-the-counter, at-home COVID-19 test kits for each covered member per month. FDA-approved at-home test kits can be purchased online or in-store at pharmacies and other retail outlets across the country.
Preventing Other Illnesses
Many of the healthy and safe practices learned during the COVID-19 pandemic are helpful in fending off other illnesses, such as upper respiratory infections and influenza.
Wash your hands frequently. If you are not feeling well, avoid close contact with others or social distance. And if you must go into public spaces, especially crowded ones, consider wearing a mask.
Keep in mind that telehealth is a good option for connecting with a health care provider to assess your condition so you can get on the road to recovery as soon as possible. Check your insurance coverage to see what virtual care options are available to you.
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