Five Steps for Living with COVID-19
It has become clear that COVID-19 cases will subside and reemerge at intervals for the foreseeable future. We can adapt our behavior based on prevailing conditions rather than be surprised by every new wave of cases. Here’s how:
- Be sure that you and your family are up to date with your COVID-19 vaccination schedule. The most recent information about COVID boosters was issued just last week. Read it over carefully to ensure that you and your family are maximally protected from developing severe symptoms.
- When community transmission rises, wear masks in public indoor locations. If you are at risk for severe COVID-19 or have anxiety about getting COVID-19, then continue to wear a mask at indoor events for the foreseeable future, as there is little downside to the approach.
- Keep several at-home antigen testing kits on hand. When a household member is symptomatic, test them at least 2 days in a row, or pursue a PCR test if you have access and time.
- A member of your family will likely test positive at some point. Have a plan and review it aloud together every few weeks.
- Those at risk for severe COVID-19, including individuals aged 65 and above, should know how to obtain Paxlovid (or other treatment if you have a contraindication to Paxlovid). These medications can prevent severe illness if taken very soon after infection occurs. If you test positive, contact your primary care office, or if you don’t have a primary care provider, visit SVMC ExpressCare/Respiratory Evaluation Center. Another option is to find a test-and-treat location listed at https://www.covid.gov.
Choose a legitimate news source to remain aware of the situation in your community. Review it a couple of times per week. There are many indicators of the local virus prevalence. Some, including wastewater measurements, show tremendous potential but are currently too incomplete to be of value in many parts of the country. I recommend sticking with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s COVID-19 Community Levels for now, which incorporates both the number of reported positive tests and local hospitalization rates.
While this plan does not take us back to our pre-COVID lives, it does allow us to live safely and with a better sense of normalcy.
Trey Dobson, MD, is an emergency medicine physician and the chief medical officer at Southwestern Vermont Medical Center, part of Southwestern Vermont Health Care, in Bennington, and the medical director of Dartmouth-Hitchcock Putnam Physicians.