The colder months have arrived, meaning viral infectivity increases. With COVID-19, the seasonal flu, and RSV panicking hospitals and doctors' offices, health authorities in major cities are recommending people wear masks indoors again.
The holiday season is here, with Christmas decorations and fun hot chocolate drinks filling up the town. With the colder months, however, the pretty decorations and festivity are not the only thing thriving. Viral infectivity and respiratory illnesses are also much more common. The icy weather prevents people from outdoor activities, gathering many more individuals indoors, and admitting viruses to travel around. The chilly air is also thought to weaken our immune system and bring viral infections.
Why are indoor masks recommended?
On January 30, 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared COVID-19 a Public Health Emergency of International Concern before announcing it as a pandemic on March 11, 2020.
Ever since the virus, the world changed, with mask-wearing being normalized around the world. We have seen people religiously wear their dental and N95 masks in grocery stores, sanitize all their food items and carry food out instead of dining outside. Since the pandemic in 2020, over 2 million individuals have died in Europe and around
1.09 million in the United States.
Aside from COVID-19, the flu and RSV - also known as the respiratory syncytial virus - have been permeating through America over the past couple of weeks, putting many lives on hold. Emergency rooms have been swamped with infected patients, unexpectedly causing a cold medicine scarcity. The flu season in the Northern Hemisphere is considered October through May, with its peak from December through February.
These three respiratory viruses, known as the "tripledemic" by certain health experts, have now recommended that we wear masks indoors again to protect ourselves and others against these fatal viruses. Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Rochelle Walensky said the tripledemic has been overwhelming the healthcare industry in America in the past week. "To protect communities in those circumstances at those high levels, we have recommended and continue to recommend that those communities wear masks," shared Walensky.
CDC's most recent COVID-19 community-level map addresses that more than 9 percent of counties in America are now noted to be at high risk of these viral infections. CDC's map released on December 9 showed that every American state included at least one county where the COVID-19 level is at medium or high. The only exceptions were Hawaii, Maine, New Hampshire, and Washington, D.C., where the community levels were considered low.
Health officials are strongly encouraging people to wear masks indoors with the new CDC guide and continue protecting themselves. "The combination of surging flu, RSV, and COVID-19 cases is pushing hospitals past their current ICU bed capacity, which never happened during the darkest days of the COVID-19 pandemic in Oregon," said Oregon epidemiologist Dr. Dean Sidelinger in a press briefing.
The New York City Department of Health & Mental Hygiene said on December 9 that anyone above the age of two should wear a mask indoors unless eating or drinking, regardless of their vaccination status.
What is a viral infection?
Both the common cold and the flu are viral infections, deriving from a small germ that operates your cells to reproduce themselves. Some viral infections COVID-19, norovirus, human papillomavirus infection (HPV), and more. Viruses can go away on their own with time and proper care, but they can lead to fatal or chronic sickness.
A virus is a tiny germ or pathogen, that does not contain any cells. Since they do not carry any cells like human beings, they try to replicate themselves to power up. During the process of replication, they utilize our cells to power up their own, causing sickness and viral infection.
There are different types of viral infections, from respiratory infections to sexually transmitted infections. The current tripledemic situation falls under respiratory infection, which affects your nose, throat, lungs, and the upper part of your respiratory system.
How can I recover from viral infections?
Recovery from viral infections can look different for every patient. If you caught a common cold, resting and taking cold medicine may bring you right back up in about a few days. To make sure you do not carry the virus, it is important to stay home and wear masks until you feel better.
If you're struggling with the seasonal flu, which can affect your respiratory tract, it may take longer to recover. It is important to stay hydrated and take medicines recommended by health officials. From time to time, antiviral medications such as Tamiflu may be prescribed to better your condition.
Viral infections may cause a high fever, unpleasant headache, nausea, distressing coughs, and even rashes. Although the symptoms are terrible and can drain your energy, most viral infections will get better with time and sufficient care. Make sure to get plenty of rest and stay hydrated, and seek medical advice if you are feeling worse over time. You should also stay home from public and indoor places until you recover from viral infections.