The coronavirus is ravaging America, as even vaccinated people can spread the new Delta variant. How can you stay safe? Virus expert Dr. Ashish Jha, Dean of the Brown University School of Public Health, has some essential words advice and shared them during a recent press briefing. Read on for five points that could save your life—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had COVID.
Virus Expert Really Wants You to Understand the Stakes
We are "more than a year and a half into this pandemic, 9, 10 months into having at least two, and now three, very safe, effective vaccines," said Jha. "We are at a point where 160, 170,000 Americans are getting infected every day from COVID. 1,500 Americans are dying every day. This is all completely preventable. This is not 2020. We are no longer at the mercy of the virus. We have all the tools to get this under control. And yet we are in a very bad situation where thousands of kids are getting infected. Kids are ending up in the hospital. And as I said, 1,500 Americans are dying because the pandemic is now in the second half of the second year. People are getting tired of social restrictions. People are struggling with social distancing and avoiding crowds and consistently wearing masks, though those remain important tools for fighting this pandemic and people are looking for a way out. And I think as opposed to last year, when we were all awaiting a cavalry of vaccines to arrive and save us, people have come to realize there is no other cavalry coming. We've got to get this pandemic under control with the tools we have."
Virus Expert Said Vaccine Mandates Were the Best Option
"I think there's also been a lot of very muddy communication and poor reporting about the vaccines, undermining their effectiveness and suggesting to people that somehow these vaccines are not effective or that they don't prevent transmission while the truth is that while we need to employ multiple public health tools, vaccines remain our most potent tool for getting this pandemic behind us."
"And then all of this, of course, is in the context of the fact that we are now in September … this is a seasonal virus that gets more active in fall in winter months, as the weather gets colder, people spend more time indoors. And I think a lot of people are feeling a sense of concern about where the country is heading with this pandemic." Regarding the President's recent vaccine mandate and six-point plan: "This was absolutely an essential moment for presidential leadership and we needed action….The public health measures that the President has laid out are the measures that we need to get this pandemic under control."
Virus Expert Said These are the Four Major Tools to Stop COVID
"The bottom line is that there are four major tools that helped bring this pandemic under control and reduce the spread of this disease. There are vaccinations, testing, masking and improving indoor air quality through better ventilation. So the president has a large emphasis on improving vaccination numbers. The problem with vaccinations as they are right now is that the sheer amount of misinformation and disinformation meant to undermine confidence in the vaccines is substantial. I think the survey suggests that a majority of the unvaccinated are open to being vaccinated. But they still have concerns and questions and doubts raised largely by misinformation."
Virus Expert Said Here's What Herd Immunity Looks Like
"What we need to get to, and this is a moving target, but what we need to get to is probably 85 to 90% population immunity," said Jha. "And that's going to be immunity both from vaccines and from infections before that really begins to have a substantial dampening effect on virus spread. And the reason for those high numbers [are] because Delta is an incredibly contagious version of this virus. So given that that's where we need to get to, there is not a community in America or certainly a state in America I know of that has population immunity at that level. Even places like South Dakota, which have had horrendous infection numbers, and they're pretty average on vaccinations—probably are only at about 70, 75%, maybe 75% immunity. Even they need substantial ramping up. Obviously if we let the virus spread, that will also achieve high levels of population immunity. It will come at the cost of killing a lot of people and really shutting down our hospitals. So we should target for very high levels of population vaccination. Again, another thing that'll help is when kids can get vaccinated kids under 12, that will also boost population immunity."
Virus Expert Said This About Outdoor Events
"On the issue of outdoor events, I think we have plenty of reasons to believe that outdoor events can be done safely," said Jha. "In fact, there's not even a ton of evidence that large gatherings outdoors do a lot of spreading. We've seen massive spread from the Sturgis rally for instance, but I think most of that was probably driven by what was happening at night in bars and restaurants. Those pictures from those football games. I understand why they look scary. We have not seen much evidence that large gatherings outdoors lead to big spread. Now the truth is of course that if you pack people in tightly enough, and if there's enough unvaccinated people, in fact your numbers are high, you'll probably do start generating some level of risk. Bt when I go to an outdoor sporting event, and I would partly because I live in Massachusetts, which is pretty highly vaccinated, and I'd go to a baseball game…and I'm obviously fully vaccinated."
How to Stay Safe Out There
Follow public health fundamentals and help end this pandemic, no matter where you live—get vaccinated ASAP; if you live in an area with low vaccination rates, wear an N95 face mask, don't travel, social distance, avoid large crowds, don't go indoors with people you're not sheltering with (especially in bars), practice good hand hygiene, and to protect your life and the lives of others, don't visit any of these 35 Places You're Most Likely to Catch COVID.