- The CDC updated its coronavirus guidance for reducing community spread and deaths as the US deals with record-shattering daily cases, hospitalizations, and deaths.
- Universal face mask use is the top recommendation in the list of 10 health measures.
- The agency also urges people to cancel holiday travel plans.
A week after Thanksgiving, the US coronavirus epidemic is out of control yet again, reaching heartbreaking new records. More than 227,000 people received positive COVID-19 diagnoses on Friday, a new world record — the US has been breaking records for a month, having surpassed 100,000 daily cases just last month November. The number of daily deaths isn’t growing at the same rate, but it’s still horrifying. 2,879 Americans died of COVID-19 complications on Thursday alone, a new record and the highest number since April 15th, when 2,607 deaths were registered. Even more people will continue to die in the coming weeks, with hospitalizations now topping 100,000 patients across the nation. A significant number of those will require intensive care and intubation, and many will die.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a new update on guidance for public health strategies to mitigate the high levels of COVID-19 community transmission. The document mentions 10 separate strategies that need to be combined to reduce the spread of COVID-19 right now. At the top of the list, of course, is the use of face masks.
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“With colder weather, more time spent indoors, the ongoing U.S. holiday season, and silent spread of disease, with approximately 50% of transmission from asymptomatic persons, the United States has entered a phase of high-level transmission where a multipronged approach to implementing all evidence-based public health strategies at both the individual and community levels is essential,” the CDC scientists wrote in the new guidance.
These are the health strategies that the CDC advises, with the agency building upon the same measures it has been advising for months:
- universal face mask use
- maintaining physical distance from other persons and limiting in-person contacts
- avoiding nonessential indoor spaces and crowded outdoor spaces
- increasing testing to rapidly identify and isolate infected persons
- promptly identifying, quarantining, and testing close contacts of persons with known COVID-19
- safeguarding persons most at risk for severe illness or death from infection with SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19
- protecting essential workers with provision of adequate personal protective equipment and safe work practices
- postponing travel
- increasing indoor ventilation as well as enhancing hand hygiene and environmental disinfection
- achieving widespread availability and high community coverage with effective COVID-19 vaccines
Some of these health measures are in response to recent developments and address the winter season, specifically. The CDC has been advising people not to travel for Thanksgiving, and it’s doubling down on that recommendation with Chanukah and Christmas looming. Indoor gatherings for the holidays are a risk factor for COVID-19 transmission.
As for vaccine availability, the Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna drugs are expected to receive emergency use authorization in the coming days, with vaccination campaigns to follow. “Widespread availability and high community coverage with safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines represent the most important public health strategy to control the pandemic,” the CDC wrote. Vaccinated people will still have to observe COVID-19 prevention measures, including masks, hand hygiene, and social distancing.
The universal use of face masks continues to be the top recommendation in the CDC’s guidance for reducing the coronavirus spread. The CDC recommends the use of face masks even at home if a family member has been infected or exposed to the virus:
Consistent and correct use of face masks is a public health strategy critical to reducing respiratory transmission of SARS-CoV-2, particularly in light of estimates that approximately one half of new infections are transmitted by persons who have no symptoms. Compelling evidence now supports the benefits of cloth face masks for both source control (to protect others) and, to a lesser extent, protection of the wearer. To preserve the supply of N95 respirators for health care workers and other medical first responders, CDC recommends nonvalved, multilayer cloth masks or nonmedical disposable masks for community use.§ Face mask use is most important in indoor spaces and outdoors when physical distance of ≥6 feet cannot be maintained. Within households, face masks should be used when a member of the household is infected or has had recent potential COVID-19 exposure (e.g., known close contact or potential exposure related to occupation, crowded public settings, travel, or nonhousehold members in your house).
The full CDC recommendations, complete with links to the latest studies, is available at this link.
Chris Smith started writing about gadgets as a hobby, and before he knew it he was sharing his views on tech stuff with readers around the world. Whenever he’s not writing about gadgets he miserably fails to stay away from them, although he desperately tries. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing.