New COVID Variants: Why You Need to Prepare Now

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Coronavirus infections are on the rise and new variants are emerging as restrictions are lifted throughout the country. Sue O'Connell and Rob Michaelson go over what to expect next and why you need to prepare right now.

We are Still in a Pandemic



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Rob: So it feels like we've moved on from COVID in in this kind of relaxed around like, Oh mate, we're past the pandemic, but you think that we should still be worried about it and it should still be on the top of our list, right?

Sue: Yeah, Rob, you're absolutely right. Local and federal governments totally relaxing mandates and protections. So you know, that means that means that if we have a surge or spike you're kind of on your own.

New Variants and Surging Cases

Rob: Now, speaking of the next wave, I know we've had so many variants the Delta, the R Macron, but what comes next? What are people expecting to see in the future if there is another wave?

Sue: Right. So the current variant is still spreading and we've got the omicron subvariant BA.2, which accounts for more than 70% of the COVID cases in New England right now. And listen, Rob, there's a new omicron variant. It's called the XE variant, which sounds like some sort of superhero movie, but it's not. And that was just detected in the U.K. New variants are going to continue to emerge. It's just what viruses do.

Rob: The XE variant. I was going to ask you about the BA.2 and the C-3PO and R2-D2. I mean, what's this all about?

Sue: Yeah. Well, experts are saying there's no cause for panic just yet, Rob. But here's what we know about BA.2. It is more contagious than its cousin, the omicron variant. What we don't know yet is if it causes more death or more hospitalizations. We do know that wastewater COVID levels are continuing to rise in Boston, and while the levels untie as they were back in December. 2021. Health officials are urging the public to prepare for a possible bump in cases over the next few weeks, and it's way too early for any information on that XE sub variant.

How You Should Prepare

Rob: So as a person who wants to be careful but you know, may want to relax and maybe enjoy life and have a balance between the two. How do I process this news? 

Sue: It is probably just a good idea for us to get in the habit two or three times a year to take stock of our COVID readiness toolkit. It doesn't cost a lot of money to make sure you're prepared. If there's a COVID surge or spike first stock up on those rapid tests. You know you can get free COVID-19 at home tests from the government via the United States Postal Services. Get your free first test or if you've already gotten those, you can probably get another second set for free for tests for free, just go to us post dot com and remember, it might be a little complicated, but if you buy your own test, your insurance company is required to reimburse you at a rate of up to $12 per individual test. And don't forget masks. You want to stock up on those N95 masks and even consider adding a blood oxygen meter to your at home safety kit. It's just in case you get sick with COVID. It would help tell you when you should go to the hospital. And of course, most important, if you're not up to date on your COVID vaccine and booster, do it now. And as you know, new guidelines were released about that second booster. So ask your doctor or check the CDC website to see if you should get the second booster shot.

Relying on Yourself

Rob: Yes, do. It kind of feels weird because, you know, according to you, we should be preparing at home and making sure that we're ready. But it seems like the government is kind of relaxing. It's kind of like a it's a little dichotomy there.

Sue: Yeah, that's exactly why you should be doing it. Rob getting prepared. Especially like I said, if we hit a surge, the government will be lagging behind in setting up those testing sites again, and the federal funding is drying up for vaccines. So for everyone who was complaining that the government was telling them what to do and they could take care of themselves, Hey, the moment is here, it's time for you to take care of yourself and your family. And remember, we are still in a pandemic, and the only way to lower the opportunities for more variants to emerge is if we all work at preventing transmission. My mother always used to say, Rob, there's a big difference between panicking, denial and preparedness. So pick preparedness.

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