FORT WORTH, Texas — It will come as no surprise if Tarrant County sees higher COVID-19 numbers after holiday travel and gatherings with family and friends. So, what should you do with your at-home COVID-19 test kits that just might be expired, and more importantly, what about the newly approved booster shots?
Dr. Shane Fernando earned his Ph.D. in Epidemiology. He has been monitoring the impact COVID 19 has had on the Fort Worth community since it started back in 2020. Unlike some other viruses Fernando believes most communities in the U.S. will have to adjust life to always stay ahead of the curve when it comes to beating COVID19.
"COVID is still very much in the United States." said Fernando.
As one of the leading Epidemiologists in North Texas, Fernando warns this is no time to let down your guard against COVID-19, especially since they expect the variants to change each year.
Protecting yourself in crowds remains just as important as when the outbreak happened in early 2020. Already, thousands of travelers have packed airports during this year's Labor Day weekend. AAA also predicts crowded highways as people visiting family and friends. Being around more people is still a perfect recipe for more cases.
"We always see a rise in cases whenever there's travel," said Fernando. "Just because people are closer together when they're traveling in the plane and in their buses and cars."
Labor Day comes just as the FDA approved new boosters from Moderna and Pfizer. The single doses from both manufacturers will not only target the current strain but also new omicron strains discovered by health officials. New booster approvals for children are still in the works. But adults could see the new vaccines sooner than later.
Dr. Shane Fernando said, "Pfizer's been approved for those 12 and above and Moderna boosters have been approved for 18 and above."
Getting a booster can help lower Tarrant county COVID cases. As of September 2, there are 928 new COVID cases in Tarrant County. Sadly, since January 2020 we've had 6,059 COVID deaths, and based on hospital data, health officials rate Tarrant County's community risk level as medium. Dr. Fernando is among few of his colleagues who have never had COVID. But he still uses test kits at home on a regular basis.
Getting the free at-home COVID test in the mail ended September 2nd. If your home test expired, don't worry or throw them out, because you can check its extended shelf-life on the FDA's website. Either way Fernando and his colleagues have not ruled out seeing yet another spike in COVID Cases after Labor Day.
"So, getting boosters as soon as possible is a great idea," Fernando said.