I'm a Doctor and These are 10 Things I Won't Do as COVID Infections Rise
Here’s how to stay safe.
This year, COVID-19 didn't wait for temperatures to drop and school to resume before cases started rising. The CDC promptly recommended that everyone over the age of six months get an updated COVID vaccine this fall. Although COVID headlines and shots have now become routine, experts warn that the virus hasn't yet become another common cold, and it's important to take common-sense precautions to avoid contracting it. Read on to find out why, and see 10 things doctors won't do right now as COVID infections are on the rise.
I Won't Skip the Updated COVID Vaccine
"I would like the updated booster as soon as it is available," Dr. Dean Blumberg, chief of pediatric infectious diseases at the UC Davis Children's Hospital, told the Washington Post on Sept. 7. "I'm planning on [getting the] influenza vaccine in October but will be monitoring influenza activity and will get vaccinated sooner if it turns out to be an early flu season."
I Won't Travel Without a Mask
"There actually was a bit of time in the spring when I did get on an airplane and didn't wear a mask, and then starting in the summer, I did start wearing them again," Dr. Jodie Guest, senior vice chair of the epidemiology department at Emory University's Rollins School of Public Health, told HuffPost on Sept. 21. These days, "I would not travel and be in an airport right now without having a mask on," she said.
I Won't Go to Indoor Events Without a Mask
"As I have gray hair, I'm in a higher-risk group just on the basis of age, so I've been wearing my mask at indoor events continuously," said Dr. William Schaffner, an infectious disease specialist at the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine. "Now that COVID cases and hospitalizations are increasing, I've been even more complete in being sure to mask up."
I Won't Eat at Indoor Restaurants
"Restaurants and gyms are my sort of two highest-risk categories. I think we saw that early in the pandemic, and I don't think anything's changed, because both have the potential to be poorly ventilated spaces where people are often not wearing masks," said Dr. Thomas Russo, chief of the infectious disease division at the University at Buffalo, who called restaurants an "Achilles heel" of COVID risk. Russo said he ate in indoor restaurants earlier this summer when case numbers were lower, but he's paused that until he gets the updated COVID vaccine.
I Won't Go To Large Group Events
"As cases rise, I will likely become more circumspect in my behavior," Dr. Elizabeth Connick, chief of the infectious diseases division and professor of medicine and immunobiology at the University of Arizona, told the Post. "In general, I avoid large group events where I don't know anyone, particularly if a lot of children or young people are present."
I Won't Go to Movie Theaters or Concerts
"I will not go to movies or concerts," said Connick. "It is not worth the risk. I will probably avoid large crowds."
I Won't Assume an Early Negative COVID Test Means Symptoms Aren't COVID
"Sometimes it can take two or three days of symptoms for that test to come up positive. … Use that information to protect other people," said Dr. Lucy Wilson, a professor of emergency health services at the University of Maryland, told HuffPost. She recommended working remotely or staying home if you're sick.
I Won't Be Fatalistic About COVID-19
Experts urge taking precautions to avoid contracting COVID, even if you've been fully vaccinated and/or had a previous infection. You can end up with severe symptoms, complications, or long COVID each time you're infected. "The infections with this virus are unpredictable," Dr. Cesar A. Arias, co-director of the Center for Infectious Diseases Research at Houston Methodist Research Institute in Texas, told HuffPost. "Last time, for example, I had a very bad conjunctivitis eye condition that I did not expect. That's why I'm cautious about trying to not get infected."
I Won't Get Lax With Hand Hygiene
"I think the pandemic has forever changed how I feel about hand hygiene — I'm sanitizing quite often when out," said Dr. Katie Lockwood, a pediatrician with the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, earlier this month.
I Won't Go Out When Feeling Sick
"One of the most important precautions is if people are sick, we should stay home," Dr. Dennis Cunningham, medical director of infection prevention at Henry Ford Health System, told CBS Detroit. "Don't go to the office. Don't send your kid to school. The last thing we need is lots of viruses being spread."