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One Year Into Covid: A Comprehensive Guide to Vaccinations, Mask-Wearing, Self-Care, Productivity and More

Photo credit: Getty; Illustration: Gene Kim for CNBC Make It

It's been a year since the World Health Organization officially declared Covid a pandemic on March, 11, 2020.

In that time, there have been more than 29 million Covid cases in the U.S. and 527,720 people have died. Now, after months of adapting to everything from mask-wearing to working from home, more than 60 million people have received at least one dose of Covid vaccine.

Questions still remain about how the pandemic will end and what living in a post-pandemic world looks like. But one year in, CNBC Make It has put together a comprehensive guide, from information on the current vaccines and variants to how to continue to be productive as you work remotely to what endemic Covid-19 could mean for you.

Here's what we've learned about Covid, and what you need to know to move forward.

How this guide works:

There's an overwhelming amount of information out there about Covid-19. So CNBC Make It distilled the must-know topics that can help you stay healthy and manage daily pandemic life. Here, you'll find the most important information, plus links to other useful stories CNBC Make It has reported over the past year. If you want to skip ahead to a particular section, just click it in the table of contents below.

Table of Contents

What you need to know about Covid vaccines

Three Covid vaccines are currently authorized by the Food and Drug Administration for emergency use. Experts say that you should take the vaccine that is available to you.

The Pfizer-BioNTech and the Moderna two-shot vaccines utilize innovative messenger RNA, or mRNA, technology. Moderna's vaccine has shown to have an efficacy of 94.1%. Pfizer's vaccine is 95% effective against Covid.

Both mRNA vaccines appear to be effective against many emerging variants. But Moderna began clinical trials for a booster shot that targets the South African strain on Feb. 24.

Johnson & Johnson's single-dose vaccine uses a common cold virus to deliver instructions to cells about how to fight the coronavirus. It demonstrated 66% effectiveness overall in preventing Covid, and was 86% effective at preventing severe illness and death from Covid.

Johnson & Johnson CEO Alex Gorsky said that the company is well-positioned to handle variants.

Some other promising vaccines in the pipeline include one from Novavax, and one from Oxford-AstraZeneca.

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A timeline for when everyone will get vaccinated

As of March 10, more than 30 million people in the U.S. have been fully vaccinated, according to the CDC.

President Joe Biden said that, thanks to a "stepped-up process," the U.S. will have enough supply to vaccinate every adult in the country by the end of May.

But it could take through the summer for "anybody and everybody" to actually be vaccinated, Dr. Anthony Fauci told "Pod Save America" in an episode published Feb. 18.

It will take until May or June to get the priority groups vaccinated, according to Fauci's timeline. And then, it could take several months for all adults to have vaccines in their arms, he said.

As people are fully vaccinated, the CDC says you can safely visit with other fully vaccinated people and even some unvaccinated people indoors without wearing masks or social distancing, according to guidance released March 8.

To check your own eligibility status, use NBC News' plan your vaccine tool.

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How to double-mask properly

While vaccines have made a return to normalcy feel more like a reality, it's not yet time to ditch your mask.

As more contagious coronavirus Covid variants emerge that challenge the efficacy of current vaccines (like the one from South Africa), the CDC says that wearing a combination of a surgical and cloth mask, aka "double masking," can reduce exposure by about 96%.

Knotting the ear loops of a surgical mask, then tucking in and flattening the material so it fits close to the face, also improved protection, the CDC found, as well as some other hacks.

And you can use telltale signs to figure out whether your N95 mask is real or counterfeit.

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The supplement Dr. Fauci takes to help keep his immune system healthy

It can be tough to wade through all the so-called "immunity-boosters." Dr. Fauci said in September that most immunity supplements do nothing, but there is one exception: Vitamin D deficiency can impact your susceptibility to infection, Fauci said.

"So I would not mind recommending, and I do it myself taking vitamin D supplements," he told Jennifer Garner during an Instagram Live.

It's also fine to take vitamin C, which has an antioxidant effect, Fauci said. But "any of the other concoctions and herbs I would not do," he said.

Fauci has also recommended other habits that can keep your immune system functioning optimally, like getting sufficient sleep and reducing stress.

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The psychological toll of the pandemic and how to deal

Many people have been living through the pandemic in a constant state of uncertainty. And "fear and anxiety really run hand-in-hand: The more things are uncertain, the more we're going to fear, and the more we fear things, the more we are anxious," says Kevin Antshel, clinical psychologist and director of the clinical psychology program at Syracuse University.

On top of that, people are grieving the loss of jobs, loved ones and "normal" life. Some, particularly frontline healthcare workers, may even experience some form or symptoms of post-traumatic stress.

So it's important to recognize the signs that long-term stress is negatively impacting your mental health, and to know what to do about it. There are strategies and mindsets, like reframing your thoughts or focusing on goal-directed tasks, that can help you cope.

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Cheap ways to make your WFH space more ergonomic

Even after the pandemic is over, many may continue to work from home at least some of the time. Working from less-than-ideal desks, moving less and experiencing more stress, can all lead to an increase in back and neck pain.

Occupational therapists and ergonomists have solutions that can make your WFH space more comfortable and gentler on your body, like putting a pillow on your seat and changing positions often.

Or consider some game-changing desk products that can help you be productive as you WFH, as well as investing in a proper office chair.

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How to fix video-conferencing burnout

As so many aspects of our lives have gone virtual, from doctor's appointments to meetings and school, video calls have become draining. And video conferencing is here to stay, even post-pandemic.

"The way that we engage in space communicates a ton about our intentions, our relationships and even our values — with video chat, all of that stuff really gets flattened, it gets diluted and often times it gets missed completely," digital media expert James Jarc tells CNBC Make It.

But there are ways to deal with the common frustrations, from covering the thumbnail of your face with a sticky note to taking advantage of the chat function.

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4 books Bill Gates recommends for pandemic reading

In November, Gates shared four uplifting or educational books to read during the pandemic. Some of the suggestions touch on pressing issues, such as "Ten Lessons for a Post-Pandemic World" by Fareed Zakaria. Others, like a history book about Winston Churchill during World War II, point to how leaders act under pressure.

Whichever title piques your interest, research has shown that reading can reduce your stress levels as effectively as other relaxation methods. 

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Experts say Covid will become endemic

In a February survey of more than 100 immunologists, infectious-disease researchers and virologists, almost 90% said that SARS-Cov-2, the virus that causes Covid, will become endemic.

When a disease becomes "endemic," it means that there's a "constant presence and/or usual prevalence of a disease or infectious agent in a population within a geographic area," according to the CDC. Influenza is a good example.

Over the next several years, if Covid becomes endemic, it will likely not be as severe or fatal. But regular testing and annual vaccine boosters could become the norm.

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Interesting pandemic studies

Interesting research about human behavior, science and safety has come out of the pandemic.

A study published in September found that people who purposefully flout Covid containment measures like wearing masks also report some traits that are typically present in people diagnosed with antisocial personality disorder, aka "dissocial personality, psychopathic personality and sociopathic personality." These include things like low levels of empathy and high levels of callousness and risk-taking.

Another study looked at how to stay safe when you're driving in a car with someone outside of your household. It found that opening the window farthest from where you're sitting provides the most protection. (Of course, you should still wear a mask.)

And research published in January highlighted the jobs where workers have the highest risk of dying from Covid. Line cooks had a 60% increase in mortality associated with the pandemic — even more than healthcare workers.

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Don't miss: What Dr. Fauci is, and is not doing, now that he’s fully vaccinated for Covid

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