So what to do to avoid getting sick this season during this wave? A lot of this advice people have heard before, but health experts say now is the time to double down.
Get vaccinated and boosted
The good news is that vaccines do what they are supposed to do. This is particularly welcome news as the state has started to see more breakthrough cases of COVID-19.
Since last week, 116 people have been hospitalized with COVID, and the majority of those patients have been vaccinated. During the delta and omicron surges, COVID-19-related hospitalizations were dominated by unvaccinated patients; often the percentage of unvaccinated patients was closer to 70 or 80. Still, health experts say getting vaccinated is the best way to avoid a serious case of COVID-19.
“Vaccination is always very effective and helps you avoid getting seriously ill or ending up in the hospital,” said Dr. Michelle Barron, infectious disease expert at UCHealth.
Nearly three out of four Coloradans over the age of 5 are now fully immunized with two doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, according to the state’s immunization dashboard.
Under-5s are still not eligible, although approval may be coming soon. The Food and Drug Administration released a timeline last month for a decision on whether to authorize a COVID-19 vaccine for the youngest children in the United States.
Stay away from crowds indoors, especially if ventilation is poor
We know that the coronavirus spreads through the air.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the most common ways to spread the virus are by breathing near an infected person who is exhaling aerosol droplets and particles containing the virus; having infected droplets that land in your eyes, nose or mouth from a cough or sneeze from an infected person; and touching your eyes, nose or mouth with unwashed hands infected with the virus.
And when you’re in and around lots of people, in addition to being vaccinated, maintaining that 6-foot distance can protect you, especially now that precautions like mask-wearing have been dropped at the level of the state of Colorado.
John Swartzberg, an infectious disease physician at Cal Berkeley, recently canceled a trip to his granddaughter’s graduation because the event was scheduled indoors. He and his wife are both vaccinated, and although he says they are heartbroken, it wasn’t worth the risk.
“I think the chances of me ending up in the hospital with COVID, even though I’m 77, (are) really small, I’m worried about the long COVID,” he said.