So just how worried should you be, especially if you're vaccinated and taking precautions like wearing masks in crowds?

I’m doing everything I can to avoid catching it and am still a Covid virgin so far. But I wonder how much I should pull back from even careful get togethers. I feel like I’m probably vaxed and boosted enough to get through infection but my wife is not (meaning though she is maximally protected she probably isnt assured of a good recovery due to other factors). This last Saturday we had 15 friends join us for a pot luck tea and lunch in the garden, all having self tested negative. One couple had recently tested negative after each had contracted it. In addition to my wife, another woman recently had back surgery and a fellow is newly deemed in remission following chemo for cancer. At 69 I’m one of the younger ones but as a possible conduit to my wife I need to be very careful.

The other area that concerns me are the now live monthly meetings of my horticultural society. While I am also masked while sitting in the audience while the speaker presents and while selling plants and raffle tickets I wonder if this is more exposure than is prudent. I’ve also driven with others to get to neetings but again masked. Perhaps I should pull back more?

This article from today’s NPR has me trying to recalibrate the risks. I wonder if anyone else is evaluating where the line is for safe interactions.

The BA.5 variant is now the most dominant strain of COVID-19 in the country, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And while it’s hard to get an exact count — given how many people are taking rapid tests at home — there are indications that both reinfections and hospitalizations are increasing.

For example: Some 31,000 people across the U.S. are currently hospitalized with the virus, with admissions up 4.5% compared to a week ago.

“Not only is it more infectious, but your prior immunity doesn’t count for as much as it used to,” he explains. “And that means that the old saw that, ‘I just had COVID a month ago, and so I have COVID immunity superpowers, I’m not going to get it again’ — that no longer holds.”


Yes, I posted this the other day, along the same line:

I also presume I haven’t had it yet, and I’m also the only one wearing a mask except in medical settings where everyone is, but only with surgical masks, and I wear an N95. With a cataract surgery and lens implant tomorrow and a dental appointment Thursday, that is still plenty of exposure, especially since the dental clinic won’t have everyone masked. I’m sure the dental hygienist will have both a mask and a shield, or will if requested. The few in the waiting room and front office won’t however. :neutral_face:

I wonder the same thing often. Unfortunately being in the Bible Belt means that almost no one is doing it. 51% is fully vaccinated. 63% had one shot. I honestly mostly am missing people. I’m working most M-F from 5am-130pm in a metal factory and 230-830 doing mostly solo pond building. The metal factory is broken up into multiple plants and the one I’m in is just 8 people and it’s not really a talkative place. It’s consistently around 135°f and moving constantly. A lot of the stuff weighs 80+ pounds and you’re moving a few thousand a day so no one is talkative. Then the pond work is almost always me by myself. I basically stream everything I watch now and I am back to just going to church on Sunday evenings which consists of about 80-100 people vs 200-300 on Sunday mornings. When I go grocery shopping it’s at 6am Saturday morning and almost never anyone inside. Rest of the weekend I’m out hiking or kayaking and though people often meet me there, we are still mostly walking several feet away. The bulk of my closest interactions are actually in the gym at but at around 9pm there is only a handful. I almost never go out to eat. Also since I’ve been vaccinated and am relatively healthy I feel like I have a low risk of getting it and it being bad. I’ve thought i caught it a few more times but it shows up negative. Luckily if I get it the factory pays me for 2 weeks full time and so it limits the need to be out.

If everything jumps up worse again I’ll go back to wearing a mask. I tried wearing the mask in the factory since it was optional and quickly stopped. The closest guy is like 14 feet away. Closest i guess I get is when I’m hooking it stacking something on a fork life but even then I’m like 8-10 feet away. But we also have big industrial fans and sometimes I wonder if someone was sick how well would the virus do in metal shop with the heat. If it kicks all off though again I’ll probably just drop the gym and focus on the typical body weight stuff and withdraw from church again. Work and grocery stories is being done about as safely as possible.

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Sorry I missed it. Now I think they’re looking into if people who get Covid multiple times are more likely to get nog Covid. Yikes.


I’m not sure which is scarier imaging not masking there or trying to work there in a mask. If I was authorized to register an effective prayer I’d send one in for you. :wink:

Put some egg and sugar with that and it might not be too bad. ; - )


I’m curious now how hot of a surface Covid can exist on. There are these heat transfer bars all over that consistently are 300°f. I can breathe pretty good and I’m ok with wearing masks while hiking even. But it gets to sweat soaked in there. Plus there is a lot of yelling. You have to wear earplugs the entire time because of the die machines punching and drilling holes through metal. I definitely understand why they have a 90% turn over rate within a few months. I took a $2 cut to avoid the night shift. They work took weeks from 5am to 5pm and then two weeks 5pm to 5am. I’m not a night owl or shift person. I’m glad I joined post osha regulations on it. Several years ago it stayed around 150°f and I’ve only been in that hot of space for a few hours and quit. Was a welder’s assistant for a guy that built metal barges. What made me quit though was actually heights. Had to climb 300 feet into the air with a 100lb piece strapped to me and then pull it up and hand it off to another guy. They told me since I’m strong enough to do it to get use to it and I quit the next day. Later on I found out it was a joke. They did not think I would try it and that they use another crane to do it. But I did not know and so I obeyed and hatred it and when I thought that was going to be my daily thing I bounced. No call and no show. Did not even pick up my check. Then like 2 years later they still sent a check through the mail to my address and so I cashed it.

It’s pretty safe not wearing the mask. We are all isolated for the most part. I’m pretty sure the heat kills the bacteria and viruses. I know some machine are several hundred degrees hot inside of them.

Following BA.5 (and it’s close kin, BA.4), we may well have to deal with another wave, caused by BA.2.75. I’m not personally very worried about severe disease, thanks to the continuing effectiveness of vaccines against severe disease and thanks to the availability of Paxlovid. I am still very cautious about exposure, however, because of the risk of long covid – what evidence we have says that repeated infections increase the risk. Long covid is not rare and it not infrequently leads to severe disability.

I wear a KN-95 mask at work (when I’m not alone in an office) and an N-95 mask on the subway (3M Aura mask – preferably the 9210 with the good elastic bands, not the 9205), since the latter fits me better. We avoid indoor dining and most indoor gatherings.


I have not been too worried, but know gobs of people with recurrent Covid, so the long Covid info is scary. It is so prevalent, one gets a little resigned to it, and it is rare to see anyone wearing a mask.

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That is such a great question, @MarkD .

CDC now has a function to tell us the relative risk by county, and the masking suggestions. Of note, however, you are right to be careful for your wife. I have seen some severe illness (one death) in the last 2 weeks, though mainly in the chronically ill. Thank goodness it is still so much better than last fall!

At our office, we still wear masks inside because of immunosuppressed and chronically ill patients. I still wear a mask at church, because I’m worried about catching a mild case and bringing it to my patients (most of whom are very elderly).

Eating outside really helps. The Swiss cheese model helps me with remembering all the factors that work together.


Thanks Randy. High in my county. So many people i know have gotten it recently, many for the first time in spite of being fully vaxed. We’re still testing every time my brother and his kids come over and they do too.

Given Lia’s weakened immunity I think I need to stop going to non essential indoor events such as the general meetings of my horticultural society.


You are certainly a very conscientious husband! I honor and respect you for that.
It is really difficult.

I hope that things go better for both of you.

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PS It’s really hard to decide, and I really don’t know the answer.

To be clear, I don’t wear a mask around my mom or sibs–but they aren’t unhealthy. Best wishes.

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@MarkD 's exemplary care is a great reminder for me. In that vein, I just heard from one of the directors of our health system that the new strains of Covid may be as infectious as measles, and different enough from previous strains that a past infection may not be as helpful in immunity as once thought.

(Note: @Glipsnort’s put in a great query below–I’m going to check on the figures).

Wow! Dethroned the old R0 champ measles! The good news is that vaxing still gives us a survival advantage and now there is that other medication we can take if we test positive. The bad news for me is my wife may not be as capable of surviving infection as myself. So that means my caution level should mirror her own.


Plus if it’s needed there are a bunch of ways that you can be actively streaming to them and vice versa even while they are walking in a garden. Many places also are doing two part meetings. One in person and a second one that’s actual email chains or message groups.

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Whew, more contagious than measles, and that’s up there with pertussis at 18!

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Yes we’re doing hybrid meetings now. But they’re much more labor intensive and as a board member I’m involved in getting that done. I decided I would go to the next but will only do tasks in close proximity with others if all are masked. But it will likely be my last depending on how the new surge goes. I’m definitely not as we’d to this group as any of you are to your churches.

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I feel like it’s a bad time to keep having my D&D gaming interests spiking. Though it’s actually usually a game called “ call of Cthulhu “ where they all meet up on Saturday. Been listening to a lot of DD style game podcasts and just seems fun. I use to play similar stuff and got lot of it way before Covid. Mostly because the crowd was predominantly 20 year olds. But this group everyone is 30-45. But if Covid is all out I may not. I’m kind of the point for myself since I live alone and don’t have as much at stake that in my county where more people don’t wear masks than the amount of people that even got vaccinated it’s like who am I protecting? I’m not protected at all unless I isolate completely and just burned out. But if I was worried someone was going to get it from me I would stop. I will go back to wearing my mask, I stopped for a few months now. Because often it was like me and 1-2 other people out of several hundred that was wearing them. I’ll probably stick with me and the same few friends from church with our horror movie nights. Though we’ve been thinking of getting these interactive story games for PlayStation like “ The Quarry “ and adding that in.

Maybe the whole meta verse 3d room stuff will turn out to be worthwhile.

I’d want to see some support for the quoted R0 for BA.5. When I’ve seen numbers like that bandied about, it’s been because people have confused Re (R-effective) with R0. The effective reproduction number for BA.5 is a multiple of that for BA.1, which is a multiple of Delta, and so on, but that doesn’t mean you can just multiply the original R0 of the Wuhan strain by all of those factors to get R0 for BA.5. Reff is the reproduction numbergiven the current immune status of the population (plus whatever other conditions might be present). Most current SARS-CoV-2 evolution is toward immune evasion, not increased transmissibility, so most of the gain each of these subvariants is getting is from evading the immunity conferred by previous variants. Which doesn’t mean that BA.5 isn’t extremely infectious – it is – but the particular numbers being quoted may not be correct.


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