Hi, I’m Dr. Nilesh Kalyanaraman, the health officer for Anne Arundel County. Welcome to our Weekly Health Update. The COVID vaccines are safe and effective, and they’re our path out of this pandemic. A lot has changed over the past week. Let’s review.
What is the updated CDC guidance?
The new CDC guidelines reflect a transition from treating COVID as a pandemic to treating it as an endemic illness. Endemic doesn’t mean that COVID is gone. It means that COVID will continue circulating at some level within our community, with occasional outbreaks. Over the coming months we’ll learn what that level is while being vigilant for outbreaks and surges.
What does this mean for us?
Based on this update, we’re now in the lowest of 3 categories of community level of COVID. This is based on case rate and hospitalizations. We’re also doing very well with vaccinations, which provide additional community level protection. We do have to remember children 4 and younger can’t get vaccinated and there’s no treatment option for children 11 and younger. Additionally, there are people with chronic health conditions who will have a higher risk. So while we’re doing well as a community, there are groups and individuals who have some additional or higher risk.
What should I do?
There are 4 things you should do:
- Stay up to date on your COVID vaccine. They’re effective at preventing the severe consequences of COVID.
- Keep at home tests in your medicine cabinet. Use them if you have COVID symptoms or if you’ve been exposed to someone with COVID, two to three days after exposure. You can always get a PCR test as well.
- Keep a stack of masks on hand, KN95 or surgical masks. The risk is lower now, and masks are not recommended at this level for the general public. However, COVID is still present, even if at lower levels. There are individual reasons to continue wearing masks, including having a chronic health condition, preventing transmission to family or friends who are at higher risk, or as another layer of protection. Some occupations or workplaces, like health care, may have additional masking requirements.
- If you test positive for COVID, talk to a doctor about treatment. If you have any health conditions that put you at risk for more severe COVID outcomes, you are eligible for treatment with oral or IV medications. The sooner you get treated, the better.
Stay safe and be kind to yourself and others. We’ll see you next week.