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How to Navigate Another Summer of COVID-19

Summer: A hallowed time for barbecues, parties, vacations, and visits, and, for many over the past three years, a time of anxiety about how to engage in those vaunted activities without spreading disease. Penn Nursing’s Melanie Kornides, ScD, RN, stresses the continued importance of vaccination and testing.

Knowing how to approach potentially risky activities given the changing state of the pandemic has been complicated. Advances in public health are helping to manage the spread: The CDC has authorized vaccines for children over 6 months old, rapid testing is becoming more widely available in the United States, and antiviral medications like Paxlovid mean that those who get the disease are less likely to suffer serious illness.

At the same time, the virus is constantly evolving, with the new omicron subvariants BA.4 and BA.5 currently accounting for over half of new COVID cases in the U.S.

To understand how to safely navigate the current state of the pandemic, Penn Today spoke to two Penn experts, Melanie Kornides, who studies misinformation and vaccine acceptance at the School of Nursing, and John Wherry, an immunologist at the Perelman School of Medicine.

If you’re traveling or gathering, get tested

Both Kornides and Wherry stress the importance of testing as a tool for safely gathering or traveling. “If you’re getting together and spending extended periods of time indoors, test before you go,” says Kornides. “If you’re planning to travel, take a rapid test and if you have symptoms, take a PCR test or delay your trip.” She also recommends wearing a mask when traveling through airports.

This is an excerpt from a longer story which was first published in Penn Today. It was written by Michele Berger, senior science communication officer in University Communications.