According to the statistics of US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Infections are on the rise in most parts of the country and these numbers are almost certainly too low, given the number of people who are determining their status through unreported at-home tests. fox.
At the same time, many people have planned a variety of summer events, including weddings, birthday celebrations, and casual get-togethers. What should event organizers keep in mind? How can people think about their own risk in deciding whether to attend and what precautions to follow? What if you have to attend something – a work function, for example – but really don’t want to bring Covid to your family? And what about those who have recovered – do they still have to worry about reinfection and the risks of illness, including prolonged Covid?
To help us answer these questions, I spoke with CNN Health Analyst Dr. Leana Wen, an emergency physician and professor of health policy and management at the School of Public Health. Milken Institute of George Washington University. She is also the author of “Lifelines: A Doctor’s Journey in the Fight for Public Health. ”
CNN: Why is BA.5 a concern right now?
Dr AS Leana Wen: BA.5 is currently the dominant variant in the United States and many parts of the world. It seems to be the most transmittable variant by far. It also can be partially evaded immunityThis means that people who have been vaccinated or previously received a shot of Covid-19 may not be as much protected from mild or asymptomatic infection.
However, vaccination does not protect against serious illness. Unvaccinated people should get vaccinated, and unvaccinated people should do the same. Updating on vaccines will help protect you from the potentially serious consequences of Covid-19, which is the ultimate goal of vaccination.
The reason for concern now is the high levels in many parts of the country. In areas where the virus is circulating, with such a contagious pathogen, a person’s chances of catching Covid-19 are very high.
CNN: Does that mean people should cancel live events?
Hi beauty: After two and a half years of the pandemic, I don’t think it makes sense to ask people to continue to forgo weddings, birthday parties and other get-togethers. A lot of people have decided that as long as they are not likely to get very sick from Covid-19, they will not take precautions to avoid it.
On the other hand, many people still really want to avoid Covid-19. Event organizers should take into account the wishes of those gathering.
CNN: What are some things people can do if they’re hosting a get-together?
Hi beauty: The first is realizing that any time people gather, especially indoors, there is a risk of coronavirus transmission. This is especially true with a virus that is very contagious and when there are many viruses around us. It is unrealistic to expect that no one will catch coronavirus at this event, although you should try to minimize the risk.
Some ways to do that include, first and foremost, trying to gather outdoors. We’ve been saying this during the pandemic, and it still holds true that it’s much safer outdoors than indoors. Coronavirus is airborne and the more air you have circulating, the better.
Ventilation is also important. A partially indoor/outdoor space where there is good air circulation is better than a completely enclosed space. And a room with open and well spaced windows and doors is less of a risk than a small, enclosed room with people crowded together.
If the organizers want to further reduce the risk, they can ask people to take a quick test at home right before the event. Rapid tests aren’t perfect, but they’re good at detecting if someone has enough virus at the time that they can infect others. Offering testing at the door is an extra safeguard, in case not everyone has access to testing first.
Of course, masks can also reduce the transmission of the virus. At this point in the pandemic, it can be difficult for people to keep face masks when most places no longer require them. I think it’s more practical to plan an outdoor event and if it has to be indoors, ask for a test rather than a mandatory mask (although masks should of course be an option for those want extra protection).
CNN: What’s your advice for immunocompromised people or people who just really want to avoid contracting Covid-19?
Hi beauty: When you are invited to an event, find out what precautions the organizer is taking and then assess the risks accordingly. An outdoor event, or at least one where you can be outdoors the entire time, is fairly low-risk. Indoor events that require testing or wearing a mask are also lower risk.
What about large indoor events that don’t require testing and wearing of masks? Wearing a one-way mask with a high-quality respirator – N95 or equivalent – still provides protection, but your mask should fit snugly and you must keep it on all the time. If you go, consider eating first and only taking off your mask when outdoors or where you are alone.
At the end of the day, there’s no definite answer as to whether you should go – it depends on how much you want to avoid Covid-19 versus the benefits you’ll get from joining.
CNN: If someone has had Covid-19, do they need to worry about reinfection? What do we know about the risk of long-term infection with reinfection?
Hi beauty: Reinfection is certainly possible. People who already have pre-Omicron variants such as Delta or Alpha are susceptible to reinfection with sub-Omicron variants. We are even seeing a refinish with people who had the original Omicron variant and are now receiving BA.5.
The chance of reinfection within the first two or three months after the initial infection is quite low but increases thereafter. People who have been infected before benefit from vaccinations and boosters, which reduce their chances of severe illness and infection even further.
this is a new researchposted online but has not been peer-reviewed, which suggests that people are re-infected at a higher rate long-term covid risk and other potential consequences with each infection. These results may lead some people to say they want to avoid reinfection as much as possible.
CNN: A lot of people are traveling for conferences, meetings, and other work functions. What’s your advice if they don’t want to bring Covid-19 back to their family?
Hi beauty: There are two options. One is to try to reduce their risks while traveling and perform these functions as much as possible, including limiting time indoors with others, wearing masks during all activities during home and avoid indoor events with food and drink – or at least keep a mask during separate functions and meals elsewhere.
The second option is to assume that you will be exposed to and possibly contract Covid-19 during these work functions, and then self-isolate and test before interacting with family members. Not everyone can do this – perhaps they have young children or other family responsibilities – but it’s another option that may work for some.