Summer is a great time to gather with friends and loved ones. With COVID infection rates increasing, here are three things you can do to reduce your risk of catching COVID this summer. These tips are provided by Emerson Health Chief Medical Officer Barry Kitch, MD, MPH.
One question on people’s minds is, “Should I self-test before spending time with friends or anyone not part of my household?” Self-testing is a helpful tool, but it is essential to understand the limitations of self-testing.
Self-tests (rapid antigen tests) are easily performed at home or wherever it is convenient for you. They are in good supply, accessible, cost-friendly, and often covered by insurance. Libraries and other public places sometimes give them out for free — check with your local town hall for availability.
If you take a home test and you test positive, you should begin to isolate to prevent others from getting the virus. However, people might be infected with the COVID virus and still test negative on a home test. With recent variants, some people do not have any symptoms but still have the virus. The only way to tell for sure if you have COVID is with a PCR test that is done at a hospital, urgent care center, or health facility.
Safer Ways to Get Together
You could consider asking people to self-test before they attend a gathering, but keep in mind you may have a negative home test and still be infected with COVID.
A good option is to gather outdoors. It is easier to maintain distance, and with more air circulation outside there is less risk of getting COVID. You might also consider limiting the number of guests you invite to keep attendance on the smaller side.
Travel & Masking Recommendations
When flying or traveling in any mode of mass transportation, you should wear a high-quality mask, such as a KN95. Masking is important while traveling because of the lengthy exposure time and proximity to other people.
If you test positive within ten days before your scheduled departure date, you should not travel. The first ten days are when you should stay close to home and not come in close contact with others to reduce the risk of spreading COVID.
Getting to a Healthier Place
Dr. Kitch explains, “We should not be discouraged with where the pandemic is currently. The many advancements in understanding and treating COVID provide hope for a safer, healthier future. As we evolve, the virus will continue to try to push back. There may be times when it will make sense to wear a mask. If people can roll with that, along with the other advances we are making scientifically, I think we will continue to get to a better place.”
Listen to Dr. Kitch provide more details on what to expect when it comes to COVID-19 in the summer of 2022 in this Health Works Here podcast.
Subscribe to the Health Works Here Podcast on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts and wherever podcasts can be heard.