As fall arrives in the Northern Hemisphere and chilly air forces more people indoors, the US needs to brace for a COVID-19 winter surge, Reuters reports.Already, cases are on the rise in 20 out of 50 states—including New Jersey and New York, where cases had been trending downwards for months.
Although new cases are down overall about 50% from the peak in July, the US still reports ~40,000 new infections a day. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, says the US needs to get that number down below 10,000 before flu seasons starts.
That means cutting the infection rate by 75% in a matter of weeks, notes James Hamblin in The Atlantic—almost certainly requiring “widespread lockdowns in which nearly everyone shelters in place,” which seem unlikely in the US political climate.
Hamblin’s winter survival tips:
- Bundle up & “Live Like You're Contagious:” Don't count on a vaccine by winter; make sure your COVID-19 “prevention bundle” includes behaviors such as distancing and masking.
- It’s not just distance, but duration: Shorter interactions are safer. If someone nearby coughs or sneezes, “ …immediately exhale to avoid inhaling droplets or aerosols. Purse your lips to make the exhaling last longer. Turn your head fully away from the person and begin walking,” advises Fredrick Sherman, a Mount Sinai School of Medicine professor.