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How Californians Should Prepare Amid the Omicron Variant Surge

Omicron Variant Surge

Many California counties have reported high cases that the Omicron variant is vastly spreading, and Californians are likely to get infected by the virus. The spread of Omicron is forcing business owners and school districts to reconsider shutting down temporarily as a protective measure.

Interestingly, Omicron has appeared to be infecting vaccinated individuals more promptly than past coronavirus strains. In addition to this, holiday gatherings have contributed to the spread of the disease.

With Omicron cases continuing to spike in California, the state has issued tighter restrictions by canceling events and closing bars and local eateries. The standard masks and social distancing are still being upheld.

Still, there are adjustments being made. So here is a list that Californians — and the whole world — can implement and/or keep in mind to better protect ourselves against present and future viruses.

Use Better Masks:

Implementing a universal masking requirement not only has proven to decrease the rate of infections but can slow community transmission.

To reduce the Omicron variant, health officials urge people to wear medicated masks such as K95 or KN95. Wearing a loose cloth or worn-out mask is less effective.

It’s also recommended that when you take your mask off, to keep it in a clean plastic cover (wash it everyday if it’s a fabric mask).

“From what we know so far, Omicron appears to spread faster than the Delta variant, which has been attributed to the surge in cases across the world in the last several months,” says the Regional Director of the World Health Organization.

“We must continue to do it all. Protect yourself and protect each other. Get vaccinated, wear a mask, keep a distance, open windows, clean your hands, and cough and sneeze safely. Continue to take all precautions even after taking vaccine doses.”

Test Yourself Before Attending Any In-person Event:

The Omicron variant virus is rapidly growing and has become one of the most common forms of coronavirus in the U.S. In fact, Los Angeles public health director Barbara Ferrer, reported Omicron as “one of the steepest rises we’ve ever seen over the course of the pandemic.”

To keep yourself and your loved ones safe, get tested before you gather. “These numbers make it crystal clear that we’re headed into a very challenging time over the holiday,” Ferrer says. “If our case numbers continue to increase at a rapid pace over this week and next, we could be looking at case numbers we have never seen before.”

Maintain Hygiene — Personal & Surroundings:

Washing hands after you touch anything was the first protocol of Covid-19 and remains the most effective way to protect against the coronavirus or Omicron variant (or any viruses, at that).

Wash your hands frequently for at least twenty seconds with a good quality hand wash. It is essential to follow this protocol after coming in contact with someone or something, as coronavirus was said in the past to have been transmittable from touching items in a grocery store, for example.

Apart from maintaining your personal hygiene, it’s also important to keep your surroundings clean with disinfectant wipes.

Generally speaking, scientists report that Omicron spreads faster and easier than other coronavirus strains, similar to the delta.

Frequently Asked Questions Regarding Omicron:

Is the CDC releasing emergency guidance?

The CDC is releasing an emergency safety guide for isolation and quarantine. This update provides health facilities with specific strategies to limit the effects of staff shortages caused by COVID-19.

The guide states:

  • Asymptomatic workers with COVID-19 can return to work after 7 days if the test turns out negative, and isolation time will be cut further in case of staff shortage.
  • The affected workers given all necessary COVID-19 vaccine doses, including booster, do not need to quarantine by following high-risk exposures.

The following is attributable to CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky.

“As the healthcare community prepares for an anticipated surge in patients due to Omicron, CDC is updating our recommendations to reflect what we know about infection and exposure in the context of vaccination and booster doses. Our goal is to keep healthcare personnel and patients safe and address and prevent undue burden on our healthcare facilities.”

Can California keep schools open?

When California’s students went on a winter break, the positivity rate was hovering around 5 percent in December. However, after weeks of travel, social gatherings, and social interaction, the students and the teaching staff return to the schools with a 20 percent positivity rate.

However, it’s been announced that $130 million will be sent out as coronavirus relief funds for school’s ventilation, tests kits, and social distancing in the classrooms.

While the White House has allowed the schools to be open, some administrations have switched to remote learning.

Is indoor dining restricted?

Since viruses such as coronavirus spread by touching a surface, the state is trying its best to restrict outdoor movements for the safety of its pupils.

Some restaurant owners choose to shutdown even before getting their staff members tested.

While indoor dining is open across counties in California, it isn’t necessarily safe for individuals. Indoor dining is at high-risk, per the orders of CDC. And while vaccinated individuals have resumed their activities as they were doing before the pandemic, the best way to keep yourself safe is to continue wear a mask in areas with high traffic.

A recent report from Unicef states:

“The more opportunities a virus has to spread, the more opportunities it has to undergo changes. […] New variants like Omicron are a reminder that the COVID-19 pandemic is far from over. It is therefore essential that people […] continue to follow existing advice on preventing the spread of the virus, including physical distancing, wearing masks, regular handwashing and keeping indoor areas well ventilated.”

I’m vaccinated — do I still need to social distance, wear masks, etc.?

In an early study from South Africa, the Pfizer vaccine was only 30 percent effective against the new omicron variant. The vaccines and boosters may offer a good protection against death or hospitalization, but it’s still recommended to follow all preexisting safety precautions.

Omicron is a variant, and we don’t know how vast will it spread, whether it will cause deaths or severe illness, or how it’ll continue to act/react with the existing vaccination work.

In Summary:

As a result of this surge, the World Health Organization (WHO) has labeled Omicron as a variant of concern. However, one good news is that the COVID-19 vaccines still hold up against the chronic variant.

“The next several weeks are critical,” said Dr. Grant Colfax, San Francisco’s director of health. “It is within our power to limit the damage of this latest surge, but we need everybody’s help.” Source.

As stated above, the World Health Organization and the state are concerned for the safety of its people. However, each one of us is required to play the part. The best way to beat a variant like Omicron is to act upon these rules: less social interaction, taking care of your hygiene and wearing masks.

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