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Virus Expert Says Don't Go Here Anymore

Avoid super crowded indoor spaces, says Dr. Jha.
FACT CHECKED BY Emilia Paluszek

The coronavirus outbreak is full of surprises, with the Delta variant now making you feel unsafe around every corner—even as restaurants and bars and airlines remain open. Where is it least safe? Dr. Ashish Jha, professor and Dean of the Brown University School of Public Health, spoke with WBUR about which spaces to avoid and how to stay safe during the Delta variant's spread. Read on for six key pieces of information that could save your life—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You Have "Long" COVID and May Not Even Know It.


Virus Expert Says Avoid These Spaces Now

Group of people in a bar.

"Remember how this virus spreads," said Dr. Jha. "The virus spreads largely indoors, when an infected person encounters an unvaccinated person, well, that's the major mechanism by which this virus spreads. So we've got to figure out how to make indoor spaces safer, right? And so we've got to avoid super crowded indoor spaces, cause that can be tough. When people are indoors, people should be wearing masks, especially if you're around a lot of unvaccinated people."


Virus Expert Says Remember These Things to Stay Safe


"Vaccines are incredibly effective at preventing infection," said Jha. "They're very effective at preventing spread. You may have heard otherwise, you may have heard that vaccinated people can still spread. Yeah, they can, but a lot less. So vaccines help a lot. Masking helps a lot. Improving indoor air quality helps a lot and testing helps a lot. And the recent lot of testing helps because if you identify people who are infected, then they stay home and they don't go out and infect a whole lot of other people. We do all of that, we can really get through the rest of this fall and winter without a surge of cases, without people getting sick. That's really the formula. That's what we've learned over the last year."

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Virus Expert Says He's Optimistic About the Future

Female and male doctors wearing masks and uniforms are visiting to check the symptoms of middle-aged female patients lying in bed.

"Talking a couple of weeks ago, I would've said things looked pretty bad," said Jha. "Things are going up across the country and I would have been more pessimistic, but you know, the experience from the UK and elsewhere shows that the Delta variant rises very, very quickly and then it peaks and starts coming down. I am cautiously optimistic that we have seen the peak in the South now as a peak at a very, very high level, right? It's still a lot of infections every day in Florida, Texas, Louisiana, but it is starting to come down slowly. And when I look across New England, again, I—you don't want to call it too early. But it does look like the rate of rise is really slowed and we may very well be at a peak here in Massachusetts. Now we still have our toughest season, the winter ahead of us. But I am optimistic that the Delta variant and the rapid acceleration we've seen across the country may really be slowing in a meaningful way." There is one big "but"—read on.

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Virus Expert Reminds Us We Could Be in Control of COVID With Vaccinations

Check-in for coronavirus vaccination against Covid-19 with doctor in the background.

"The truth is there's a lot we can do to bring those infection numbers down more quickly, there's a lot we can do to keep the infection numbers low. As we get into the fall and winter, we are not at the mercy of this virus. We are now in control. We now know what to do, and we can implement smart policies and have smart behaviors, and we can do things and we can influence where this goes."

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Virus Expert Said Experts Were Studying a New Variant

Biotechnology scientist in ppe suit researching DNA in laboratory using microscope. team examining virus evolution using high tech for scientific research of vaccine development against covid19

"We are seeing reports out of South Africa of yet another variant, the so-called C.1.2 has been found in seven countries associated with increased transmissibility, increased ability to evade antibodies," said the WBUR host. "So what do we know and what are we watching for?"

Jha said: "What we're watching for is both laboratory and clinical data to see how this variant, functions. What I will say to everybody is expect more variants because this is a global pandemic. And as long as the virus continues to rage across the globe, there will be more variants. Most of them will not matter. I don't know if C.1.2 will end up mattering or not. We heard about the Delta plus that came out of India that got everybody concerned. It turned out probably to be Delta minus, not that important. We're going to hear a lot of early reports. And I generally tend to take them all with a big grain of salt, because I want to see the clinical data. I want to see what's happening in the labs, in the test tubes, as we're testing these viruses. And, you know, Delta is bad enough. And I am at this moment, not worried about some new variant. We've got to deal with the variant we have in front of us, and we've got to help the world get vaccinated."

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How to Stay Safe Out There

Brunette woman wearing a KN95 FPP2 mask.

Follow the public health fundamentals and help end this pandemic, no matter where you live—get vaccinated ASAP; if you live in an area with low vaccination rates, wear an N95 face mask, don't travel, social distance, avoid large crowds, don't go indoors with people you're not sheltering with (especially in bars), practice good hand hygiene, and to protect your life and the lives of others, don't visit any of these 35 Places You're Most Likely to Catch COVID.

Alek Korab
Alek Korab is a Co-Founder and Managing Editor of the ETNT Health channel on Eat This, Not That! Read more about Alek