The beginning of the year had us facing a new and powerful threat – a respiratory infection called Covid-19. Social distancing measures, personal protection and even complete lockdowns were introduced to get the situation under control. In the summer of 2020, the entire world breathed a sigh of relief as infection rates went down. Unfortunately, the winter of 2020 is marking the return of the coronavirus.

As numerous European countries are going into a second lockdown, what has happened in the US? Let’s take a look at the current state of affairs, as well as the things you can do to protect yourself and your loved ones from the virus this winter.

The US Hits 11 Million Cases in November

On November 16, 2020, CNN reported that the US passed the barrier of 11 million coronavirus infections since the start of the pandemic. More than 246,000 people already lost their lives.

CNN quoted Johns Hopkins University data that shows the milestone was hit only six days after the registration of 10 million cases.

This is the shortest period of time for the US to reach one million new cases since the start of the pandemic. As a result of the rapid coronavirus spread, many state authorities are now considering the reintroduction of stricter measures.

Recently, Washington announced new restrictions on social gatherings, business events and the organization of religious services. New Mexico went for a complete ban of in-person services delivered by non-essential businesses. Similarly, Oregon banned the use of indoor restaurant spaces and limited social gathering to six people at most.

In New York, restaurants and bars have to discontinue operations by 10pm, Maryland reduced indoor restaurant capacity to 50 percent and Utah enforced a statewide mask mandate.

According to many state officials, the situation now is the worst to date and it demands even stricter anti-pandemic measures than the ones already in effect.

The number of hospitalized people who tested positive for the novel coronavirus has reached 69,455. This figure exceeds the spring peak of 59,718 hospitalized individuals.

If the numbers continue growing like that, hospitals will find themselves understaffed and incapable of addressing the needs of all people looking for urgent care. Not only that, healthcare workers are also getting infected at a disproportionately high rate. In the US and Mexico, every seventh person diagnosed with Covid-19 is a medical professional.

2021 Covid-19 Scenarios

Based on current developments, medical researchers and statisticians have come up with several models for the progression of Covid-19 in the US in 2021.

Some of the most pessimistic models suggest that up to 511,373 lives could be lost across the US by the end of February 2021 in the absence of a vaccine or a reliable treatment plan for the condition. The good news is that strict, disciplined universal mask use across the country could save as many as 129,574 lives in the same period. Even if only 85 percent of people are strict mask wearers, 95,814 lives could be saved.

Other analysts predict faster regulatory procedures for the emergency introduction of new vaccines.

One of the models suggests that the leading vaccine candidate could be granted FDA approval as early as January 2020. Many see the vaccine as the only possibility for stabilization and normalization, also enabling the resumption of regular business activities and the growth of the economy.

At the time being, 2021 is still a mystery. The pandemic could take a turn for the worse or it could be curbed through socially responsible behavior, restrictions and medical advances. The way in which the vast public perceives the pandemic is one of the most important factors that will play a role in ending Covid-19 for good.

Important Prevention Steps Everyone Can Undertake

Winter is coming and you need to think about protecting yourself from the novel coronavirus and from other seasonal respiratory infections like the flu.

We are all eager to go back to our pre-Covid-19 life. Still, hugging and kissing strangers on the street is still far, far away.

The correct use of personal protective gear will once again be the most important protective measure. Use a mask each time you go out and make sure you’re putting it on and taking it off correctly.

Respiratory infections experience a natural rise during the winter, which is why you should be extra-diligent about hygiene. Wash your hands each time you go out and come back. If you cannot use soap and water, carry a hand sanitizer in your bag. To be effective, such a product should contain at least 60 percent alcohol.

Maintain social distancing from people who are not members of your household. We all miss our friends but staying away from each other will save lives. Zoom calls and other online streaming services make it easy to keep in touch without jeopardizing anyone.

Other healthy lifestyle essentials apply, as well. Try to get at least eight hours of sleep per night. Eat a balanced diet that contains lots of fruits, vegetables and lean proteins. Supplements like Vitamin C and D, as well as Omega-3, zinc and selenium could also be beneficial. Instead of choosing such supplements on your own, however, talk to a healthcare provider about the best regimen for your needs.

Finally, if you experience Covid-19 symptoms, do not panic. Many other respiratory infections will manifest themselves in the exact same way. Unless you get tested, it will be impossible to tell if you have Covid-19 or something else.

Be vigilant and seek medical advice if you develop a fever or a persistent dry cough. You don’t need to rush to the emergency immediately but a doctor can provide adequate suggestions for assessing your condition and determining when the time has come to act.

Panicking about the coronavirus and living in fear can have very serious consequences. This is why you should focus on maintaining your health without obsessing about the pandemic. While this may seem easier said than done, it’s essential to still enjoy the little things in life, laugh and spend quality time with the people you love.