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With few masks in sight and shops, eating places, leisure venues and hospitals returning to comparatively regular operations, it might be straightforward to assume that COVID is behind us.
Sadly, that’s not the case, as a lot as we’d all prefer it to be. A extra transmissible variant, BA.5, is spreading throughout the nation and now accounts for greater than two-thirds of COVID instances nationally. Prior to now two weeks, the variety of COVID instances, and associated hospitalizations and deaths have elevated within the U.S. The variety of new instances in Maine is trending upward as properly. The numbers, nevertheless, stay small in comparison with earlier COVID surges.
Nonetheless, well being officers concern that each elected officers and the general public have gotten too complacent in regards to the ongoing pandemic and the brand new variant, which one knowledgeable known as the worst but. They’re additionally involved that the general public has “pandemic fatigue” and gained’t heed new warnings.
“That’s my largest concern — that we’re so anxious to be performed with this virus that we’re getting complacent,” Barbara Ferrer, the general public well being director for Los Angeles County, informed the New York Instances.
Officers in that California county have stated they’re planning to reinstitute an indoor masks mandate by the tip of the month. The variety of COVID deaths per week lately doubled and sewage testing reveals that the surge is prone to continue to grow.
“COVID will not be going away,” Dr. Nirav Shah, the pinnacle of the Maine Heart for Illness Management, stated in a press release to the BDN editorial board. “The virus will proceed to evolve in its quest for survival.”
“The Omicron subvariants, that are at the moment predominant in Maine, are extra transmissible than earlier strains of the virus,” he added. “With individuals interacting extra freely and sometimes than was the case in 2020 and 2021, the extra transmissible subvariants are prone to proceed driving larger case counts.”
Luckily, there are steps you may take to guard your self. In case you are not totally vaccinated or haven’t acquired a number of booster pictures (People over 50 are at the moment eligible for a second booster), you need to achieve this now. The state’s COVID response web site has details about vaccine and booster eligibility and availability.
Lower than half of all eligible U.S. adults have gotten a single booster shot, and solely about 1 in 4 People age 50 and older who’re eligible for a second booster have acquired one.
The FDA lately approved vaccines for youngsters between 6 months and 5 years previous.
Maine’s COVID vaccination and booster pictures charges exceed the nationwide averages, which Shah credit with enjoying a key position within the state’s comparatively low charges of essential care and ventilator use.
Nonetheless, a brand new state report revealed final week that COVID has turn into the third main reason behind dying in Maine, behind most cancers and coronary heart illness.
To raised defend your self, and others, from the unfold of coronavirus, Shah recommends these steps as properly:
Maintain gatherings outdoor to considerably cut back the danger of virus transmission. If gathering indoors is the one possibility, select a well-ventilated house.
Keep house and keep away from interplay with others in case you have a sore throat, fever, fatigue, or some other signs of COVID-19. Get examined when you assume you have got been uncovered to COVID. Free at-home assessments, which can be bought from many shops, are nonetheless obtainable.
Make a plan now together with your medical supplier to have the ability to achieve fast entry to antiviral capsule Paxlovid or one other remedy do you have to check constructive for COVID-19.
As for masks sporting, Shah stated “those that understand themselves to be at larger danger due to the subvariants ought to think about sporting masks at indoor public settings.” He additionally really useful that Maine individuals and guests to the state observe the U.S. CDC’s masking steering based mostly on the danger ranges the place they’re and the place they plan to journey. Maine is at the moment thought-about low danger.