COVID-19’s Fourth Wave: What You Need to Know Now – AARP

Other variants are circulating in the U.S., and more could emerge. But there are ways to protect yourself from these concerning strains, and that's by following the same public health guidance that experts have been promoting all along: Wear a mask in public, keep a safe distance from others, wash your hands often and avoid crowded and poorly ventilated spaces. Health leaders are also encouraging people to get vaccinated when it's their turn.

"This is a good reminder to follow those infection prevention efforts as we work to vaccinate people, says Saskia Popescu, an infectious disease epidemiologist and assistant professor at George Mason University's Schar School of Policy and Government.

Another factor that could determine whether current trends continue to climb is pandemic fatigue. The combination of a year of restrictions and the growing availability of vaccines is leading some to let their guards down and socialize more and do more things, Cash-Goldwasser says.

But doing so could result in devastating consequences, and health experts are pleading for Americans to stay the course. In an April 7 press briefing, Andy Slavitt, White House senior adviser for COVID-19 response, said better days are on the horizon, and even predicted that a more normal Fourth of July holiday is within reach. But he warned that all of the progress that has been made can be reversed if the public lets down its guard.

"We need to keep being careful, and we need to get shots into arms. And if people get vaccinated as soon as they possibly can and continue to practice these measures, hopefully we will be able to keep things under better control and not see a surge, Cash-Goldwasser says.

Rachel Nania joined AARP as a health and medicine writer in 2019 after spending several years as a radio reporter and editor in Washington, D.C. She is the recipient of a 2018 Gracie Award and a 2019 regional Edward R. Murrow Award, and participated in a 2019 dementia fellowship with the National Press Foundation.

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COVID-19's Fourth Wave: What You Need to Know Now - AARP

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