Go Ad-Free
logoThe People's Perspective on Medicine

COVID Is Back! Will You Catch It…Again and Again?

There's a new variant in town (EG.5 or ERIS) which means COVID is back. Will you catch it? If you caught COVID before you CAN catch it again!

This is not what you wanted to read: COVID is back. Actually, it never went away. But most people are acting as if it had gone for good. Look around the next time you go to the pharmacy, supermarket, restaurant, bank or sporting event. No one is masked or cautious. Will you catch COVID for the first, second or third time? There’s a good chance that before it really does fade from view, virtually everyone will have caught COVID at least once.

COVID Is Back in So Many Places:

Ask public health officials or hospital administrators in Philadelphia, New York City, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, San Antonio and Las Vegas, to name just a few cities. They will tell you that COVID is back!

States Where COVID is On the Rise:

• Alabama
• Indiana
• Kentucky
• Louisiana
• Maine
• Maryland
• Minnesota
• Mississippi
• Missouri
• Montana
• North Carolina
• Oregon
• South Carolina
• Tennessee
• Texas

Hospitals Are Acknowledging That COVID Is Back!

Now that most people are testing for COVID-19 at home, it is hard to get accurate numbers of actual cases. One place where they do test and report is in hospitals.

Last summer, we were averaging 45,000 hospitalizations due to COVID around this time. This year, hospitals are reporting a bit more than 10,000 hospitalized COVID patients. While it’s down a lot from last year, that’s an increase of over 14% from the prior week. Here is a link to recent trends in hospitalizations, deaths and visits to the ER.

The initial reports suggested that older people were being hit the hardest. The most recent data, however, suggest that kids from 0 to 11 years of age are also showing up in emergency departments.

If COVID Is Back, Why Don’t People Care?

Wherever you go, the overwhelming majority of folks appear to have put COVID out of mind. An occasional person is wearing a mask, but that is a rarity. Everyone wants to forget this pandemic and pretend that it never happened.

The trouble is that people who were especially careful and dodged the COVID bullet up until now are catching the virus for the first time. And those who already caught COVID-19 once are coming down with it for the second time…and even the third or fourth time.

Alright, I can hear you now! If someone caught COVID once, shouldn’t natural immunity protect them from a severe reinfection a second or third time around? The answer is: there are no “safe” COVID infections.

Nobody knows why some people have a “mild” case of COVID and why others get very sick. Some people have developed a bad first infection and a relatively mild second infection. For others, though, it works in reverse, for reasons that are remain mysterious.

COVID Is Back, and With It a Risk of Long COVID:

For all the people who say, “the heck with COVID…I just don’t give a damn!” That’s easy to say if you have not experienced long COVID.

Just ask anyone who is still suffering with symptoms such as shortness of breath, a lingering cough, debilitating fatigue, brain fog or chronic pain if they can forget this illness. Chances are they will say that it has had a major impact on the quality of their lives.

What researchers cannot tell you is whether your chances of developing long COVID increase or decrease with each round of infection. Given that uncertainty, you may not want to be nonchalant about catching another round of COVID.

What Flavor of COVID is Back? ERIS (EG.5)

The dominant COVID variant is EG.5, recently dubbed ERIS. EG.5 is a descendant of Omicron, which caused a lot of trouble last year. Public health authorities are playing down the danger, but they are urging older people to consider the new vaccine when it becomes available this fall.

We are not in a position to say yay or nay when it comes to a new vaccine. We would love to see decent data. So far, that is not available.

What about masking? We have been inundated by messages from visitors to this website that state unequivocally “masks don’t work.”

In a quest for transparency, we absolutely admit that research has produced conflicting results. For anti-maskers, that’s all it takes to convince them that masks are a waste of time at best and counterproductive at worst.

Ask them what can be done to avoid catching COVID for the first, or fifth time, and you get a blank stare. They’ve got nothing. These are the same folks who are cheering at sporting events and having a rousing good time at the local pub.

To learn what we recommend, please visit this link:

Are There Dangerous Viruses in the Air You Breathe?

We are big proponents of high-quality air filtration. We also value fresh air! The trouble is you have no way of knowing how good the heating and air conditioning system is at your pharmacy, bank, supermarket or big box store.

How many air changes does the auditorium, doctor’s office, movie theatre, rest room or restaurant have per hour? That information is not posted anywhere that we have seen. It represents the amount of fresh air from outside that is brought into the facility each hour.

Ideally, we would like to see 10 to 12 air changes each hour. The only way you will know if the room or building you are in has decent air exchange is to carry a carbon dioxide monitor with you.

A CO2 monitor will tell you how well a room is ventilated. If you test outdoor air, it should measure about 400 ppm (parts per million). Even if the carbon dioxide levels climb to 600-800, it’s not terrible.

If CO2 exceeds 800 ppm it means that there are too many people breathing in your space and there is not enough fresh air. If someone has COVID-19, you could be inhaling some of their viral particles.

Why Masks Still Make Sense Now that COVID is Back:

There is a reason why studies of masks have produced inconclusive results.

In a nutshell, it boils down to these three factors:

1) Not all masks are created equal. Most masks are not very effective because they are not N-95s. They may be fabric or surgical masks that have elastic behind the ears. These do not filter air effectively.

2) Most masks do not fit well. There are gaps around the nose, cheeks and chin. If you wear glasses and they fog up when you wear a mask, air is escaping. That is proof that the mask does not fit correctly.

3) Many people do not wear masks correctly. Admit it, you have seen a lot of people wearing their masks as chin straps. The other mistake is to push the mask below the nose. The mask becomes totally ineffective in such situations.

We have written about why there is value in wearing face masks at this link.

Final Words:

We understand why you want to forget about COVID-19. We want to put this virus in the rear view mirror as well! Perhaps someday it will disappear for good. Then again, it may turn into a flu-like illness and reemerge every year with a different variant. Hopefully, the virulence will gradually diminish.

At the moment, though, we do not know if the EG.5 variant is stronger, weaker or about the same as the prior Omicron variants. We do not know if long COVID consequences will gradually disappear or whether we are stuck with this mysterious chronic illness for many years to come. In the meantime, please be safe.

If you feel you must refute the use of face masks in the comment section below, please be kind. We are getting fed up with rude, vitriolic responses.

If you find our message worthwhile, please share it with a friend or family member. We are grateful for subscriptions to our ad-free service. We wish we did not have to allow ads on our website. They make scrolling through our content more challenging. If you go ad-free at this link, you will no longer be bothered by such ads. And thank you!

Rate this article
4.4- 257 ratings
About the Author
Joe Graedon is a pharmacologist who has dedicated his career to making drug information understandable to consumers. His best-selling book, The People’s Pharmacy, was published in 1976 and led to a syndicated newspaper column, syndicated public radio show and web site. In 2006, Long Island University awarded him an honorary doctorate as “one of the country's leading drug experts for the consumer.”.
Tired of the ads on our website?

Now you can browse our website completely ad-free for just $5 / month. Stay up to date on breaking health news and support our work without the distraction of advertisements.

Browse our website ad-free
Join over 150,000 Subscribers at The People's Pharmacy

We're empowering you to make wise decisions about your own health, by providing you with essential health information about both medical and alternative treatment options.