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America has been averaging over 100,000 COVID cases a day for the last four weeks—with no sign of slowing—and more and more children are getting sick. How to stop this, and how can you stay safe, when it seems like not enough people will ever get vaccinated? Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy appeared on This Week With George Stephanopoulos yesterday to issue some seriously essential advice—and a warning. Read on for five key points—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had COVID.
Surgeon General Called Delta "a Tough Foe" That's "Throwing Curveballs"
Murthy reminded us that "200 million people got at least one shot of the vaccine," but added "Delta is a tough foe. It's throwing curve balls at us and we have to be prepared to respond. And that is why the president announced an ambitious and thoughtful plan…which is intended to help us get through the next phase of this Delta variant…. We know that these kinds of requirements actually work to improve our vaccination rates. Tyson Foods, for example, which put in a vaccine requirement recently saw that its vaccination rate went from 45% to more than 70% in a very short period of time. And they're not even at their deadline yet. So this is the next step, in a series of steps, that have to be taken to help protect our country from COVID-19 and help us get through this pandemic."
Murthy Called Delta a "Dangerous Virus"
Said Murthy: "If anything, we've learned over the last 18 months, it's Delta, the COVID virus, is a dangerous virus. It makes our workplaces and our schools are less safe than they should be. So this is an appropriate action we believe. And it's certainly from a public health perspective, most importantly will help keep workers safe and that will ultimately help our economy as well."
Surgeon General Said We've All Been Getting Vaccines for Decades
Regarding resistance against vaccines, Murthy said: "We have to put this in context. There are requirements that we put in workplaces and in schools every day to make sure that workplaces in schools are safe. For example, when you and I went to grade school, we likely had requirements for vaccines that we had to fulfill in order to participate in the classroom. That was part of keeping the classroom safe. I have worked for years in hospitals and we had requirements to get vaccinated so we can protect our patients from infection. These are steps that we take every day….so this is not an unusual phenomenon. What it is, I think, is an appropriate response for us to recognize that if we want our economy to be back and we want our schools to stay in session, we've got to take steps to make sure workplaces and learning environments are safe."
Surgeon General Called for Unity on Weekend of 9/11 Anniversary
"Here's what I think we have to remember," said Murthy. "And it's especially important that we remember this on a day like today, the day after the 20th anniversary of 9/11: This has been a long, difficult pandemic. It has generated a lot of anger, a lot of fatigue, a lot of impatience among folks in the community over time. And that's absolutely understandable, but what we cannot allow is for this pandemic to turn us on each other. Our enemy is a virus. It is not one another. And what we have to do is approach this next phase of the pandemic response, recognizing we've got to listen to each other before we rush to judgment, and we've got to support one another in our decision-making. And during times of crisis—9/11 reminded us that we have the capacity to do that. As difficult as times may seem right now after 9/11…I remember people reaching out to strangers to support them. I remember people traveling across the country to volunteer in New York City. That is the spirit of America that I know and love. We still have the capacity for that kind of approach. And it's what we're called on to implement in a moment like this. When we have to get through this very difficult pandemic."
Surgeon General Was Asked About the Trajectory of the Pandemic Over the Next Several Months
"The prediction game is a tough one," said Murthy, "and there are many people who have been humbled over the last 18 months, trying to make predictions. I do think that what happens over the coming months really depends on what we collectively do as a society, and the weeks ahead: Do we reach out to our family and friends and urge them to get vaccinated? And do we step up and use our masks and indoor public settings, recognizing that there's good scientific evidence that helps reduce the spread of the virus? Do we ensure that in our schools, we are taking the layers of precaution that we know help keep our kids safer, from masks to regular testing, to improve ventilation. If we take those steps, I think we can make a lot of progress in the months ahead, but it really does depend on us and what we do together."
How to Stay Safe Out There
Follow the public health fundamentals and help end this pandemic, no matter where you live—get vaccinated ASAP; if you live in an area with low vaccination rates, wear an N95 face mask, don't travel, social distance, avoid large crowds, don't go indoors with people you're not sheltering with (especially in bars), practice good hand hygiene, 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.