- Coronavirus infections in the U.S. have shot up nearly 40% over the last two weeks.
- Many ICUs are operating at near-capacity as hospitalization rates have also hit record highs.
- With herd immunity still a few months away, it’s as important as ever to follow the CDC’s seven safety guidelines to avoid catching COVID.
The grim scenario many health experts predicted would happen in January is unfortunately playing out in front of us. In the wake of the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays — which saw millions of Americans travel home — dozens of states are currently experiencing massive spikes in coronavirus infections. Over the last two weeks alone, the coronavirus infection rate in the U.S. jumped by nearly 40% while coronavirus-related deaths skyrocketed by 47%.
Despite the arrival of coronavirus vaccines, the reality is that it’s going to take some time before a majority of the population will be able to receive it. Frustratingly, the rollout of COVID-19 vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna has been plagued by several inefficiencies. While some health officials were hoping to vaccinate 20 million Americans by the end of January, that goal doesn’t seem achievable given the current vaccination rate.
In light of the above, it’s as important as ever to stave off pandemic fatigue and to take coronavirus safety guidelines seriously. Herd immunity is still many months away and the simple reality is that it’s easier to contract COVID-19 during the winter than it was during previous seasons.
That said, the CDC has a list of seven preventative actions everyone should follow in order to avoid catching the coronavirus. Nearly all of these actions should be familiar to everyone by now, but the surging rate of COVID-19 infections underscores the fact that many people, sadly, do need a friendly reminder.
The CDC’s guidelines read as follows:
- Wash your hands frequently.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
- Stay at least 6 feet (about 2 arm lengths) from other people.
- Stay home when you are sick.
- Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
- Wear a mask when you go out in public.
- Masks should not be placed on young children under age 2, anyone who has trouble breathing, or is unconscious, incapacitated or otherwise unable to remove the mask without assistance.
Beyond the basic safety guidelines above, Dr. Fauci in recent weeks has made a point of discouraging indoor gatherings.
“Ten [people] may even be a bit too much,” Fauci said last month. “It’s not only the number, it’s the people who might be coming in from out of town. You want to make sure you don’t have people who just got off a plane or a train. That’s even more risky than the absolute number.
“You get indoors and you take your mask off because you’re eating and drinking and you don’t realize that there may be somebody that you know that you love who is perfectly well with no symptoms and yet they got infected into the community,” Fauci added.
Indeed, indoor gatherings have been found to be disproportionately responsible for coronavirus outbreaks across the country. To this point, contact tracing data from New York last year found that nearly three-quarters of new coronavirus infections came from household gatherings.