It’s been over 2 years into the COVID-19 pandemic and there is still no clear sign of an end. In the meantime, the best way to keep safe is to stay updated on all news. Outlined here is everything COVID-19 related you may need to know for the first half of 2022.
The Ongoing Public Health Emergency
As of April 12, the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services has renewed the determination that a public health emergency exists surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic. This signifies that the current pandemic is still in progress and the United States officially recognizes the ongoing situation. This extension to the public health emergency will last three months and has been renewed since the beginning of the pandemic in January of 2020. The public health emergency will continue to be renewed periodically if the virus continues, so you can expect it to be renewed for the foreseeable future.
Renewal of Transportation Mask Mandate
As it has been since the beginning of the pandemic, state and local governments have the final say in whether or not to use mask mandates. Currently no states are enforcing a mask mandate use in public, but businesses may still require employees and customers alike to wear masks. However, under the Federal Transportation Mask Mandate, which was extended until May 3, people traveling on public transportation such as planes, trains, or buses, must wear a mask. The Federal Transportation Mask Mandate has been constantly renewed since it was implemented and there is a high chance it will continue to be renewed again.
Lockdowns and Travel Restrictions
There are no longer any active COVID-19 Lockdowns in place in the US. At this point it is unlikely there will be another lockdown, but due to the nature of the virus, the possibility of another lockdown should not be ruled out.
The US has lightened up considerably on their air travel restrictions in the past few months. It is no longer required to have pre-arrival testing while traveling within the 50 states. However, a non-US citizen coming to the US must show a negative COVID-19 test or documentation of recovery from COVID-19, including a letter from a licensed healthcare provider or a public health official stating clearance for travel. In addition, international travelers must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and have at least 14 days between their last vaccination in order to travel to the US. If you plan to travel make sure to take necessary precautions and wear a mask when flying. To get tested and approved for international travel, you can purchase our Certified Teleservice COVID Testing – Use Any Over The Counter Test or get an On-Site Test.
The Severity of the Pandemic
The CDC is currently assessing the status of the virus in certain communities using three metrics, COVID-19 hospitalizations, hospital capacity, and new coronavirus cases, to determine community level threats. Based on these community levels, low, medium, and high, the CDC recommends different levels of precautions you should take in order to remain safe. In a low community level, they recommend simply keeping updated on news of the virus, and to get tested if one shows symptoms. In a medium community level, people at high risk for severe illness should consult their healthcare provider and decide whether they need to wear a mask or not, in addition to low level threat precautions. In a high community level, people should use appropriate protection such as wearing masks inside and using social distancing, as well as low and medium community level precautions. To stay safe, make sure to be aware of your community threat level and take appropriate measures when necessary.
With the unpredictable nature of viruses, diseases, and the pandemic, there are always possibilities of new strains and variants emerging. We have seen this before with the Delta and Omicron variants, but it appears new strains continue to be found in new places. According to the World Health Organization, there are three main Variants of Concern (VOC), they are the Delta Variant and Omicron BA.1 and Omicron BA.2 variants. The Delta variant was a strain of COVID-19 that was discovered in India all the way back in December of 2020 and was the first variant that required international attention.
The Omicron variants are currently the dominant variants circulating globally, with BA.2 being the most transmissible and also having a higher growth advantage out of the two. Studies indicate that the BA.1 variant has less chance of patients getting reinfected, but it is still comparably dangerous to the BA.2 variant. (To read more on Delta vs. Omicron, read our blog post here). For every one of these variants, there are several subvariants that can emerge through mutations in the virus. Some of those subvariants could be less harmful and some of them could be more harmful than the existing variants, until they are studied there is no way of telling which is which. The CDC and WHO are currently monitoring several Variants of Interest (VOI) and are preparing for the case that any one of them might soon become a VOC.
As we continue to move forward it is important to remember we are all in this together! Remember to take safety precautions and practice good health and hygiene so we can all get back to normal. As a reminder, check in with your state and local government to remain updated and aware of what’s happening around you.