But moving on doesn’t necessarily mean leaving caution behind. Covid is still around and the number of cases is rising in some communities. We all have to learn to live with covid.
Living with COVID-19 is easy if you take simple, regular precautions. Jay Varma, a physician, infectious disease specialist and professor of population health sciences at Weill Cornell Medicine, compares this new normal to the adjustments we have to make to safety after 9/11. We’re used to extra restrictions on travel, such as taking off our shoes at airline security, to keep us safe.
I’ve spent nearly three years reporting on life with the coronavirus and the pandemic, speaking with many of the world’s leading experts on public health and virus transmission. We don’t have to choose between staying safe and living a normal life. We can do both. Here are 10 tips to help, including some steps I’ve taken to protect myself.
- Get a booster. Start with a vaccine or booster shot. Read this Q&A for answers to frequently asked questions about the new booster.
- Wear a mask when relaxed. No one wants to wear a mask all day, so be strategic. I don’t usually wear a mask at work, but I do in crowded meetings. You might want to wear a mask at the grocery store; it’s a building full of strangers, and covid might be there too. If you take public transportation, wear a mask at the doctor’s office or on your commute. Risk is cumulative, so every time you wear a mask in a high-risk situation, you reduce your chances of contracting the virus.
- Wear a mask when traveling. When you travel, your risk of exposure to the new coronavirus increases. Wear a mask at security lines and crowded terminals to lower it. The plane has an efficient ventilation system that filters the air every five minutes, but I still wear a mask.If it’s a long trip and you just don’t want to wear a mask, consider wearing one During boarding and disembarkation, the ventilation system may be turned off. Here are travel tips from virus experts: During the flight, turn on the fan nozzle and place it on your face to help stop any stray virus particles.
- Avoid crowds. Whether you follow this advice may depend on your overall risk. Young healthy people who are vaccinated may choose to spend time in crowded indoor areas.People who are older or have underlying medical conditions may Choose outdoor areas for dining, sporting events and concerts. And for indoor activities like watching a movie or theater, cautious people may still want to wear a high-quality mask.
- Check the level of community transmission. Tracking the number of cases in your community can help guide your choices. In the U.S., if you look at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s map of transmission levels, be sure to use the drop-down menu to look at “community spread,” not “covid-19 community level,” which is an indicator of how hospitals are managing and not related to individual decision-making.
- Create a Paxlovid plan. People over 50 and high-risk groups are eligible to take Paxlovid, a highly potent antiviral drug.You need to start in five minutes The number of days of diagnosis or symptom onset, so it’s important to talk to your doctor and make a plan to get a prescription quickly if you need it.
- Think about your indoor air. Adding a portable air purifier to a space can effectively double the ventilation of a room. Ask your employer to provide portable air purifiers in office spaces and meeting rooms. Ask how often the filter should be changed. You can also ask what your employer has done to improve indoor air quality in the office. Many workplaces have upgraded their air filters to hospital-grade quality filters. (Ideally, your workplace uses something called a MERV-13 filter, but some systems can only handle MERV-11 filters.)
- Use home tests wisely. While a negative home test means you may not be contagious, it does not guarantee that you are not infected with the new coronavirus. If you have cold symptoms or are not feeling well, especially if you are known to have been exposed to the virus or are at higher risk, such as travel or indoor concerts, you should stay away from others or wear a mask until your symptoms subside— — even if your test result is negative.
- Stay home from get off work when you are sick. An important lesson of the pandemic is that we shouldn’t go to the office with a runny nose or a sore throat. If you feel good enough to work, stay home and zoom in.
- Plan your life around the most vulnerable people around you. If you are in frequent close contact with someone who is elderly, has a chronic disease or is immunocompromised, you need to take more precautions and be more vigilant about disguising, detecting and avoiding high-risk situations.
Most importantly, it’s not all or nothing, said Greg Goncalves, an epidemiologist and associate professor at the Yale School of Public Health. “There are many reasons why we shouldn’t just get vaccinated and be done. A viral infection can easily marginalize you or ruin your life or the lives of those around you.”
Three questions. . . on smarter workouts
This week, I spoke with Your Move columnist Gretchen Reynolds, who wrote about the dangers of being an active couch potato and whether morning or evening is the best time of day to exercise.
Q: Why is it difficult for people to develop a regular exercise habit?
A: Most people, including me, say it’s because we don’t have time. But most behavioral science says it’s because we’re not having fun. If people don’t like sports, they won’t do it. The good news is that there are many ways to stay active. Don’t like jogging? There’s swimming, hiking, mountain biking, weight training, kimchi, online yoga, walking with friends or whatever you like. It can also help redefine exercise as “my time” or healthy procrastination. In this case, you don’t just go for a walk or a swim. You are resting mentally healthy, and tomorrow will be refreshed, alert and eager to procrastinate a little longer.
Q: What is more important for health: more exercise or less sitting?
A: Can I answer “both”? There is no doubt that sitting for long periods of time is not good for us. It affects our bodies in ways that increase our risk of everything from weight gain to heart disease. New research shows that short-term exercise doesn’t eliminate these effects. We may need to exercise at least an hour a day to combat prolonged sitting. Or we can sit less and move more, breaking up our sitting position with gentle activity rather than formal movement. Either approach is healthy, and if you can do it, a combination of them—more exercise and less sitting—is the healthiest.
Q: What is your favorite short workout?
A: I love fartlek, it just means I pick a tree or other landmark when I’m out for a walk or run, and pick up my pace until I get to it. My Fartlek classes are usually short, about 15 minutes. But it’s a fun, easy way to incorporate intensity into a workout and make the time go faster. I never get bored when I fart.
This week’s daily life coach is the monk Toshiaki Masano, the author of a new book I’m reading, “Don’t Worry: 48 Lessons for Anxiety Relief from a Zen Monk.”
Suggest: Calm your night. “One of the tricks to calming your night is to avoid making decisions at this time as much as possible,” Masuno wrote.
Why you should try it: In one study, researchers tracked the decisions of 184 chess players.The study, published in the journal Cognition, found that the most accurate decisions occurred between 8 a.m. and 1 p.m.
How to do it: Adding calm to your night will vary from person to person. Nights can be busy for parents and sometimes we have to take work home. Regardless of your situation, try to set aside a little time before bed to calm yourself down. Some people may want to read a book or listen to music. Make evening a time for your craft or hobby. Light candles. Take a shower. “When you make time for pleasure, you naturally feel calmer and more at ease,” writes Masuno. “You’ll end up sleeping better and you’ll wake up refreshed and ready for another day.”
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