But living on doesn’t have to mean discarding caution. Covid is still here and the number of cases is increasing in some communities. We all need to learn to live with covid.
Living with a cow can be easy if you take simple, regular precautions. Jay Varma, a physician, infectious disease expert and professor of population health science at Weill Cornell Medicine, compared this new standard to the changes we all needed to make in terms of safety after 9/11. We have become used to additional travel restrictions, such as removing our shoes at airline control lines, as a safety inconvenience.
I have spent almost three years describing corvids and pandemics, talking to many of the world’s leading experts in public health and virus transmission. We don’t have to choose between staying safe and living normally. We can do both. Here are 10 tips that may help, including some steps I take to protect myself.
- Get a Boost Shot. Start with a vaccination or booster injection. Read this Q&A for answers to frequently asked questions about new boosters.
- Cloak when it’s easy. Nobody wants to wear a mask all day, so be strategic. I don’t normally wear a mask at work, but in a crowded meeting. You can disguise yourself at the grocery store; it’s a building full of aliens and probably covid there too. Disguise yourself at the doctor’s office or on the way to work if you use public transport. The risk is cumulative, so every time you wear a mask in a high-risk situation, you reduce your chances of catching the virus.
- Cloak when traveling. Your risk of coming into contact with covid increases as you travel. Lower it while wearing your mask on the security line and in crowded terminals. Airplanes have effective ventilation systems that filter the air every five minutes, but I still wear a mask. If it’s a long journey and you just don’t want to mask yourself, consider wearing one when embarking and disembarking from the plane, when the ventilation system may be turned off. Here’s a travel tip from virus experts: while in flight, turn on the fan nozzle and position it to blow on your face to keep virus particles from wandering.
- Avoid the crowds. Whether or not you follow this advice is likely to depend on your overall risk. Vaccinated, young, healthy people may choose to spend time in crowded, confined spaces. Older people or those with a basic medical condition may: choose outdoor venues when it comes to dining, sporting events, and concerts. And for indoor events such as a cinema or theater, the cautious may still want to wear a quality mask.
- Check the community broadcast levels. Keeping track of the number of cases in your community can help you make decisions. In the United States, if you look at the map of transmission levels from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, make sure to use the drop-down menu to see “community transmission” and not “covid-19 community levels” which are an indicator of how hospitals are coping, not so essential for personal decision making.
- Have Paxlovid’s plan. People over 50 and those at high risk can take Paxlovid, a highly effective antiviral drug. You have to get started within five days after diagnosis or symptoms appear, so it’s important to speak to your doctor and have a plan to get a prescription quickly if you need one.
- Think about your indoor air. Adding a portable air purifier to the room can effectively double the ventilation in the room. Ask your employer to provide portable air purifiers in offices and conference rooms. Ask how often the filters are replaced. You can also ask your employer what steps have been taken to improve the air quality in the office. Many workplaces have retrofitted hospital quality air filters to filters. (Ideally your workplace uses something called MERV-13 filters, but some systems may only support MERV-11 filters.)
- Use home tests wisely. While a negative home test means you probably aren’t contagious, it isn’t a guarantee that you don’t have COvid. If you have symptoms of a cold or are unwell, especially if you’ve been exposed to the virus or have been in a high-risk situation, such as traveling or performing indoors, you should stay away from others or wear a mask until symptoms resolve – even if the test is negative.
- Stay home from work when you are sick. One of the great lessons of a pandemic is that we shouldn’t go to the office with a runny nose or a sore throat. Just stay home and zoom in if you feel well enough to work.
- Plan your life around the most vulnerable person in your orbit. If you have regular close contact with someone who is older, has a chronic disease or is immunocompromised, you will need to take more precautions and be more vigilant when it comes to masking, testing, and avoiding high-risk situations.
The bottom line is, it’s not all or nothing, said Gregg Gonsalves, an epidemiologist and associate professor at the Yale School of Public Health. “There are many reasons why we shouldn’t just get vaccinated and quit. A single virus infection can very easily sideline you or disrupt the lives or lives of those around you. “
Three questions. . . about smarter exercise
This week I spoke to Your Move columnist Gretchen Reynolds who wrote about the dangers of being an active couch potato and whether morning or night is the best time of day to exercise.
Q: Why is it so difficult for people to get into the habit of exercising regularly?
AND: Most people, including me, say it’s because we don’t have time. But most behavioral science says it’s because we don’t have fun. If people don’t like exercise, they won’t. The good news is there are so many ways to be active. You don’t like running? There is swimming, hiking, mountain biking, strength training, pickles, online yoga, walking with friends or any other exercise you like. It may also help to reformulate your training as “time for me” or healthy procrastination. In that case, you don’t just go for a walk or a swim. You take a mental break and return to work refreshed, alert and willing to put a little more time off.
Q: Which is more important for health: more exercise or less sitting?
AND: Can I answer “both”? There is no doubt that sitting is bad for us. It affects our bodies in a way that increases the risk of everything from weight gain to heart disease. And new research suggests that short training sessions won’t reverse these effects. We probably need to exercise for at least an hour a day to combat long hours of sitting. Or we can sit less and move more by breaking our sitting position with gentle activity but not formal exercise. Each of these approaches is healthy, and a combination of them – more exercise and less sitting – is the healthiest of all if you can handle it.
Q: What’s your favorite short workout?
AND: I love the fartlek, which just means I pick a tree or other landmark when I walk or run and keep pace until I reach it. My fartlek sessions are usually short, maybe 15 minutes. But it’s such a fun, easy way to incorporate intensity into your training and make your time faster. I never get bored when I fart.
This week’s daily life coach is Shunmyo Masuno, a monk and author of a new book which I am reading: Don’t Worry: 48 Lessons For Relieving Anxiety From A Zen Buddhist Monk.
Advice: Make your evenings peaceful. “One way to calm down the evening is to avoid as much as possible making decisions during this time,” writes Masuno.
Why you should try it: In one study, researchers tracked the decisions of 184 chess players. A study published in the journal Cognition found that the most accurate decision-making took place between 8:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m.
How to do it: Adding tranquility to your evening will vary from person to person. Evenings can be hectic for parents and sometimes we have to take work home with us. Regardless of the situation, try to set aside some time before going to bed. Some people may want to read a book or listen to music. Make the evening time to work on crafts or hobbies. Light a candle. Take a bath. “When you take time for pleasure, you will naturally feel calmer and more at ease,” writes Masuno. “Eventually you improve your sleep quality and wake up refreshed and ready for the day.”
The Well + Being team has had a busy week behind them! Don’t miss these stories.
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Mean: How to make friends with the inner critic
Brain Matters: What to do when you are bored? Listen to your brain.
Have you been taking the pills wrong?
People with skin conditions face stigma. The monkey pox made things worse.
Pickleball explodes and it becomes a mess
How people with face blindness compensate
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