This editorial appeared on the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Read more here.
Long before President Biden signed legislation last week to end the national emergency, most Americans had moved on from the pandemic.
That’s understandable, but the two COVID-related deaths this week should serve as a reminder to remain vigilant and follow county and CDC guidelines. As many people as possible should get COVID-19 vaccinations.
COVID continues to affect Americans in many ways. A recent international review of 13,000 pregnant women, including roughly 2,000 with COVID, found that pregnant women with COVID-19 and their developing babies are at significantly higher risk of severe health outcomes. Pregnant women with COVID, for example, were four times more likely to be admitted to an intensive care unit, 15 times more likely to be ventilated, and seven time more likely to die. Researchers said the study underscores the importance of getting vaccinated during a pregnancy.
The CDC continues to recommend masking after exposure, self-isolation when testing positive or experiencing symptoms, and disclosing illness to those brought into contact with the virus.
Pittsburgh-based infectious disease expert Dr. Amesh Adalja, a senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, said people who are at high risk for getting the disease still need to take proper precautions. Some people should consider wearing masks in crowded places. And people should be aware of — and use, when appropriate — new drugs, such as Paxlovid, which can help arrest the progression of COVID from mild to severe.
One of the upsides of COVID is it encouraged people to follow some healthy habits that will help slow the spread of other viruses. Those habits include regular handwashing with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, and if soap and water are not available, using an alcohol-based hand rub that contains at least at least 60% alcohol.
As COVID moves from the pandemic to endemic stage, it’s important to remain vigilant and compassionate toward those who have contracted the virus.