Never had COVID? With mask restrictions slowly disappearing, what are the chances of getting them now?

LOS ANGELES — If you’ve never contracted COVID-19, what are the chances things will stay that way now that many people have stopped wearing masks? Is it inevitable that everyone will eventually get infected?

Maya Shabtai, a college student, said she contracted COVID in December. She is one of the 43% of Americans who have contracted the virus, according to estimates by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That leaves about 57% of people who have never had it.

Los Angeles native Adam Leisure wants it to stay that way.

“What I will do is still wear a mask myself. I still get scared when I’m around a group of people I don’t know,” he said.

Now that mask restrictions are being eased, Leisure is wondering what the chances are of catching coronavirus now.

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“The risk of getting COVID is really dependent on the amount of COVID that is around you,” said Dr. Michael Ben-Aderet, Associate Medical Director of Hospital Epidemiology at Cedars-Sinai.

He said the data shows the chance of encountering someone with COVID in LA County is pretty low.

“Once we see that risk going down, our health officials will make decisions about relaxing things like masking and distancing,” he said.

However, the individual risk varies depending on the immune system, vaccinations and behaviors, such as e.g. B. Wearing a face covering.

“I think masking is still a really good idea,” said Ben-Aderet. “If someone close to you has COVID and is masked and you are masked, your risk of exposure to COVID is significantly lower.”

Some like to forgo the face coverings.

“I don’t like wearing a mask anymore,” said John Wheeler of Los Angeles. “I’ve gotten to a point where I’ve had three shots.”

“I understand that we cannot live like this for the rest of our lives. So I understand that we need to move away from masks,” Shabtai said.

We’ll likely have to learn to live with COVID, but experts say it doesn’t mean infection is inevitable.

“We shouldn’t be casual about the idea of ​​getting COVID-19,” Ben-Aderet said. “We are still seeing hospitalized patients with COVID-19. We still see patients dying from this disease. Therefore, it is still crucial to really prevent infection, even if case numbers are falling.”

Enjoy the new freedom, but keep an eye on the transmission levels in your community.

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Dais Johnston

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