Expert advice for a new phase of COVID

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While COVID cases may be on the rise, UAB experts say the circumstances are different now that much of the population has been vaccinated or developed some natural immunity from previous infection, and the same stringent protocols utilized at the height of the pandemic are largely not necessary.

One of those experts, UAB School of Public Health Epidemiologist Suzanne Judd, Ph.D., says the most important thing is to act responsibly if you have any respiratory illness – which means limiting others’ exposure to your symptoms.

“If you have symptoms of any respiratory illness, it is best to take steps to protect other people, whether you have COVID, common cold, RSV or the flu,” Judd said. “We are no longer seeing the high volume of severe COVID we once did because – among other reasons – many of us now have antibodies.”

If you have symptoms of any respiratory illness, Judd says you should consider:

  • Avoiding other people
  • Wearing a mask
  • Seeing your healthcare provider if symptoms get worse; follow guidance
  • Washing hands frequently

Practice healthy behavior

  • Practice good hand hygiene
  • Avoid sick people
  • Get the flu and COVID vaccine when available
  • Stay home if you have symptoms
  • Read UAB emails/newsletters for information and resources

Judd says typical measures people take to avoid respiratory illness – like hand hygiene and avoiding sick people – are sufficient for the average person.

“People who have compromised immune systems or have pre-existing conditions that increase their risk of serious disease, should consider additional precautions – they may choose to mask or avoid indoor gatherings,” Judd said, “And everyone should get vaccinated for flu and COVID when vaccines become available.”

New flu and COVID vaccines are expected to be available this fall.

“COVID doesn’t pose the threat it once did and can be largely treated like other respiratory illnesses that we don’t want to spread,” Judd says. “It remains important that we all do what we can to help keep ourselves and our community safe with healthy behaviors.”

UAB Medicine employees should continue to follow guidance and policies specific to healthcare professionals.

Have respiratory illness symptoms?

  • See your healthcare provider, follow guidance
  • Avoid other people
  • Wear a mask
  • Wash hands frequently
  • If symptoms get worse, see your healthcare provider, follow guidance