With BA.5 on the rise, what should event organizers keep in mind? An expert explains

7 月 21, 2022World News

(CNN)The highly transmissible Omicron subvariant BA.5 represents at least 65% of new Covid-19 infections in the United States, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Infections are rising in most parts of the country, and these numbers are almost certainly an undercount, given how many people are determining their status through home tests that are not reported.

At the same time, many people have lots of summer events planned, including weddings, birthday celebrations and casual get-togethers. What should event organizers keep in mind? How can people think about their own risk in deciding whether to attend and precautions to follow? What if you have to attend something — for example a work function — but really don’t want to bring Covid back to your family? And what about people who have already recovered from an infection — do they still have to worry about reinfection and the risks of illness, including long Covid?
To help us answer these questions, I spoke with CNN Medical Analyst Dr. Leana Wen, an emergency physician and professor of health policy and management at the George Washington University Milken Institute School of Public Health. She is also author of “Lifelines: A Doctor’s Journey in the Fight for Public Health.”
CNN: Why is BA.5 a concern right now?
Dr. Leana Wen: BA.5 is now the dominant variant here in the United States and in many parts of the world. It appears to be the most transmissible variant yet. It also may be partially immune-evasive, meaning that people who have gotten their vaccinations or who have previously had Covid-19 may not have much protection against mild or asymptomatic infection.
However, vaccination does protect against severe illness. People who are unvaccinated should get vaccinated, and those not yet boosted should do so. Being up to date on vaccines will help to protect you from the potentially severe consequences due to Covid-19, which ultimately is the goal of vaccination.
The reason it’s a concern now is that there are high levels in many parts of the country. In areas with a lot of circulating virus, with such a transmissible pathogen, one’s chances of catching Covid-19 are high.
CNN: Does that mean people should cancel in-person events?
Wen: After two and a half years of the pandemic, I don’t think it’s reasonable to ask that people continue to forgo weddings, birthday parties and other get-togethers. A lot of people have decided that as long as they are unlikely to become severely ill from Covid-19, they will not take precautions to avoid it.
On the other hand, a lot of people still really want to avoid Covid-19. Event organizers should take into account the wishes of those gathering.
CNN: What are some things people can do if they are organizing a get-together?
Wen: First is recognizing that any time people are gathering, especially indoors, there will be a risk of coronavirus transmission. This is especially true with a very contagious virus, and when there is so much virus around us. It’s not realistic to set the expectation that no one could get coronavirus at the event, though you should try to reduce risk.
Some ways to do that include, first and foremost, trying to have the gathering outdoors. We have said this throughout the pandemic, and it remains true now that outdoors is much safer than indoors. Coronavirus is airborne, and the more air circulation you have, the better.

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