March 14, 2023

COVID-19 Precautions: Do They Still Matter? (Hint: Yes!)

The number of COVID-19 cases in the United States continues to fall. This is obviously good news. At this time, we are not seeing new variants causing large outbreaks of infections, and hospital systems are not overwhelmed.

However, COVID-19 is still here in the community. Individuals who have underlying medical conditions or are over age 50 remain at risk for serious illness. And research is confirming that long COVID is a real issue for many people. Even mild cases of COVID-19 can lead to organ damage and other serious medical problems months and years after infection. One in five people will experience long Covid syndrome.

What does this mean? It means that taking precautions to protect yourself and others against COVID-19 is still important. These are the basics:

  • Stay up-to-date on vaccines, including the bivalent booster. The bivalent booster became available in September 2022. If you haven’t been boosted since last August, you’re due for this updated booster! Vaccines and boosters are available at most doctors’ offices and pharmacies and at Wednesday clinics at the Cambridge Public Health Department. More information here.
  • Be careful around loved ones who are vulnerable to serious illness. Testing before visiting is always a good idea, as is masking when you’re in close contact with someone who is particularly vulnerable.
  • Wearing a face mask offers an additional layer of protection. Masking is recommended for everyone when COVID-19 community levels are high, but you can choose to wear a mask at any time.
  • If you feel sick:
    • Stay home!
    • Test for COVID-19. Free tests (and masks) are available at the health department at 119 Windsor Street. Health insurance also covers free tests at this time.
  • If you test positive for COVID-19:
    • Seek treatment right away. Early treatment can prevent serious illness and may protect against long COVID. It’s important to start treatment early, even if you don’t feel very sick. Call your doctor to learn more.
    • Isolate at home for at least 5 days. 
    • Wear a mask around others for 10 days. (If you have two negative tests 48 hours apart, you may remove your mask sooner than day 10.)
  • Questions? Need help? Call the COVID-19 Hotline: 617-933-0797
    • Public health staff can answer questions about treatment, vaccines, and testing.
    • Staff can also connect you to community resources (food, COVID tests and masks, primary care, etc.).