As a result of SARS-CoV-2, the virus responsible for spreading COVID-19 across the US, daily life in the United States was disrupted. Many Americans resumed their normal lives after more than a year of adjusting to strict guidelines and vaccinations. There are still many vulnerable individuals who have not been vaccinated, and experts are still tracking the emergence of virus variants that pose new threats.
Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson are currently administering three vaccines in the United States, and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) endorses Pfizer and Moderna vaccines as being the safest and most effective vaccines. Every five-year-old and older should get a booster shot, the CDC says.
Omicron and its subvariants, which are highly contagious, have become the dominant variant in the U.S. Worries will continue as cases rise and fall throughout 2022.
In addition to identifying the best treatments for COVID-19, scientists and public health officials continue to research key questions about how the disease affects the body and why some cases are more severe than others.
You should know these five things about the Coronavirus in the following text.
Related News: Omicron and the BA.2 Subvariant: What We Know
1. Information about COVID-19 has rapidly changed
Every day, the number of people infected by this disease changes. According to the WHO, despite the fact that the impact of the disease varies by location, more than 519.5 million people have been confirmed to have it around the globe, and more than 6.2 million have died of it. It is the WHO that provides official counts of confirmed cases once a day, despite some news sources reporting different numbers.
As of this writing, the CDC estimates that more than 81.5 million confirmed or probable cases and 994,000 deaths have occurred in the U.S. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 82.6% of adults and children ages 5 to 19 in the U.S. have received at least one vaccination shot, and 70.4% have been fully immunized, either receiving two doses of Moderna or Pfizer vaccines, or one dosage of Johnson & Johnson’s single shot.
It has been reported that COVID-19 illnesses can range from mild (with no symptoms in some cases) to severe enough to warrant hospitalization, intensive care, and/or a ventilator in some cases. It is also possible to die from COVID-19 illnesses. The risk of complications increases with age, even though anyone can be infected. The risk of serious illness is even higher for people of all ages who live in a nursing home or long-term care facility and those with underlying health conditions (such as diabetes, heart disease, lung disease, and obesity).
Scientists now know a lot more about how the virus spreads. Three ways in which COVID-19 spreads are listed by the CDC:
- As a result of inhaling small droplets and particles of virus when close to an infected person;
- A droplet or particle landing in the eye, nose, or mouth causes:
- If the hands are infected, touch the eyes, nose, and mouth.
There is generally a higher risk of COVID-19 spread when you interact closely with others and for a long time. Indoor spaces are generally more risky than outdoor spaces.
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2. Implementing strict measures is crucial to slow the spread of the disease
At the beginning of the pandemic, public health experts focused their efforts on “flattening the curve.” If you mapped COVID-19 cases over time over an extended period, you could expect a point where the number of cases peaked, which would mirror a surge in patients. By flattening the curve, hospitals would have fewer patients during that period, which would make it easier for them to care for patients who are sick with COVID-19 and other conditions.
As 2020 drew to a close, U.S. cases had become what some referred to as a third wave (or, maybe, a third peak), and not a continuation of a single storm that had started in the spring and never subsided. Because of the cold weather, many government officials in various parts of the country cancelled some of the plans they had to reopen. These restrictions included curfews, limiting indoor gatherings, and mandating masks.
3. Prevention is the key to preventing infection
The most effective way to prevent infection is through vaccination. For the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, all adults are eligible for vaccination, as well as teenagers and children as young as five. Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines are preferred by the CDC out of the three vaccines available. Additionally, it specifies that people ages 12 and older who are immunocompromised and adults over 50 should also get a second booster shot five months after completing a primary Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna series, or two months after a J&J one-shot. Regardless of which vaccine was received for the child’s primary vaccination, anyone over 18 can choose one of the three boosters. Children must receive the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.
COVID-19 is more likely to cause severe illness if your immune system is weak. Some immunocompromised adults or children may need a third dose of Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna to complete their primary series (this is not to be confused with the booster shot, which is separate), and a second booster shot. The CDC website has more information on how to stay protected.
On Vaccines.gov, you can find information about where to receive the vaccine.
It is important for you to continue doing other things to protect yourself. According to the CDC, those who have not been immunized should take the following precautions:
- Wash your hands for at least 20 seconds with soap and water. Use an air dryer or clean towel to dry thoroughly. In the absence of soap, use a hand sanitizer containing at least 60% alcohol.
- When sick, don’t leave the house.
- Do not touch your eyes, nose, or mouth. To prevent spreading illness, cover coughs and sneezes with tissues, then throw them away.
- CDC says different types of masks and respirators can offer different degrees of protection based on the mask and how it is worn. Wear a mask that fits snuggly over your nose, mouth and chin. In addition to well-fitting disposable surgical masks and KN95s, N95s and other NIOSH-approved respirators offer the most protection. Weaved cloth masks afford the least protection, whereas well-fitting disposable surgical masks and KN95s provide the most protection. According to the agency, you should always wear a mask that is as protective as possible, fits well, and is worn consistently. The CDC offers advice on how to choose a mask on its website.
- Leave about six feet between you and others. Avoid crowded outdoor settings and unused indoor spaces, according to the CDC. Masks are not a substitute for distancing yourself from others.
- Clean doorknobs, switchboards, desks, keyboards, sinks, toilets, and other frequently touched objects and surfaces using a household wipe or disinfectant spray.
- Plan what your family will do if someone in the house falls ill with COVID-19. Plan how you will care for those who might be at greater risk for serious complications, interact with your neighbors, and ensure you and your family have a plan for what to do if someone falls sick. Planning a way to separate a sick family member from those who are healthy if the need arises is part of this process.
- Try to have family and friends visit outdoors whenever possible. In the event that you must visit them indoors, make sure the room is well ventilated and able to accommodate social distancing. Avoid traveling if possible.
If you are fully vaccinated:
- CDC suggests wearing a mask regardless of local transmission if you have a weakened immune system or are at increased risk for severe diseases due to your age or underlying medical condition, or if someone in your home is in that situation or is unvaccinated.
- The CDC recommended pregnant women get vaccinated in August 2021. Pregnant women have a greater risk of being infected with COVID-19 than non-pregnant people, as well as a greater risk of preterm birth (delivery of the baby earlier than 37 weeks) and other adverse pregnancy outcomes, according to the CDC.
It should be noted, however, that local rules may differ, so fully vaccinated people should follow local business and workplace guidelines, as well as take precautions as required in health care settings.
4. Experts are working quickly to find solutions
It is crucial to understand the true infection and mortality rates of COVID-19 in the U.S. There are several kinds of tests that health providers use, and they are learning about what works best–both viral tests and antibody tests. A determination is made about who should be tested by healthcare providers, state and local health departments.
Science continues to closely study the virus. The United States and other countries now offer a variety of vaccines, and multiple vaccines are in development. Additionally, vaccine manufacturers are researching whether they need to tweak their vaccines in order to protect against new mutations of the virus, as scientists examine how those mutations affect the rate of contagion and their potential for causing severe illnesses.
5. When you feel ill, here are the steps you should take
COVID-19 symptoms should be watched out for by everyone, whether they have been fully vaccinated or not. It is recommended that anyone who suspects they have been exposed get tested and stay home and away from other people. After exposure, symptoms usually appear between two and fourteen days later. The following symptoms could occur:
- Fever or chills
- Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
- Muscle or body aches
- New loss of taste or smell
- Sore throat
- Congestion or runny nose
- Nausea or vomiting