A year into the pandemic, and the COVID-19 health crisis is worse than ever. On Tuesday, the United States broke two grim records with 3,700 new deaths and 124,600 hospitalizations, per the COVID Tracking Project. Americans are starting to receive the highly anticipated vaccine, but health experts—including Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's top infectious disease expert and the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases—predict that things will worsen before they improve. This makes it more important than ever to protect yourself and others from the highly infectious virus. Here are 5 CDC recommended ways to save yourself as well as your community from becoming infected with COVID-19. Read on—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had Coronavirus.
You've Got to Wear a Mask
Masking up is an incredibly easy and efficient way to prevent the spread of COVID. "Wear a mask that covers your nose and mouth to help protect yourself and others," the CDC recommends. "Masks offer some protection to you and may protect those around you if you are unknowingly infected with the virus that causes COVID-19." In terms of choosing a mask, they suggest facial coverings made with two or more layers of washable, breathable fabric that fits snugly against the sides of your face.
You Must Maintain Social Distancing
Another key way to avoid coming into contact with the virus is to socially distance yourself from others who don't live in your home. The CDC recommends keeping a six-foot distance (two arms lengths) away. "The more people you are in contact with, the more likely you are to be exposed to COVID-19," they explain.
You Have to Avoid Congregating Indoors
You are more likely to catch COVID-19 when indoors versus outdoors. "Avoid indoor spaces as much as possible, particularly ones that aren't well ventilated," the CDC urges. They also point out that socially distancing is more challenging in indoor spaces.
Please Practice Hand Hygiene
Practicing hand hygiene is important in case you come into physical contact with the virus. "Use soap and water for 20 seconds, especially after you have been in a public place or hand sanitizer if soap and water aren't available," the CDC urges.
Avoid Congregating in Groups or Attending/Hosting Gatherings
Group gatherings are one of the riskiest settings for the spread of the virus. The CDC outlines the least risky to most risky situations on their website. There are a variety of factors that influence how risky a group gathering is, including the duration of the event, how many people are attending, the community infection risk, and how long people interact with each other.
Lowest risk: Virtual-only activities, events, and gatherings.
More risk: Smaller outdoor and in-person gatherings in which individuals from different households remain spaced at least 6 feet apart, wear masks, do not share objects, and come from the same local area (e.g., community, town, city, or county).
Higher risk: Medium-sized in-person gatherings that are adapted to allow individuals to remain spaced at least 6 feet apart and with attendees coming from outside the local area.
Highest risk: Large in-person gatherings where it is difficult for individuals to remain spaced at least 6 feet apart and attendees travel from outside the local area.
How to Survive This Pandemic
As for yourself, follow public health fundamentals and help end this surge, no matter where you live—wear a face mask, social distance, avoid large crowds, don't go indoors with people you're not sheltering with (especially in bars), practice good hand hygiene, get vaccinated when it becomes available to you, and to protect your life and the lives of others, don't visit any of these 35 Places You're Most Likely to Catch COVID.