How to protect yourself and others from Omicron

With the Omicron variant of the coronavirus spreading rapidly throughout California, authorities are urging Californians to do their part to help mitigate the outbreak.

“The next few weeks are absolutely critical,” San Francisco health director Dr. Grant Colfax said in a statement on Tuesday. “It is in our power to limit the damage of this latest wave, but we need everyone’s help.”

Here are some steps you can take to stay safe:

Use better masks

To reduce the spread of the coronavirus, health officials are urging people to use medical grade masks, such as surgical (or blue) masks, or N95, KN95 or KF94 masks. Wearing an old, loose cloth mask is less effective. Placing a cloth mask over a surgical mask may be more effective than a surgical mask alone because it tightens the fit.

The California Department of Public Health claims that good masks have the following properties:

â–  Two layers of tightly woven cotton with a third layer of non-woven fabric. The third layer could be an inserted mask filter or a synthetic fabric, such as polypropylene.

â–  Nose wires to reduce the spaces around the nose.

â–  Adjustable earrings or straps that wrap around the head to reduce gaps around the face.

Last month, California ordered a statewide mask warrant for indoor public spaces.

Do not go to the emergency room unless necessary

Authorities on Monday urged people to avoid going to the emergency room unless they have a real medical emergency.

“As we continue to experience an increase in the number of cases, [the Department of] Public Health reminds residents to avoid going to the emergency room unless they need emergency medical care. Residents should not go to the emergency room just to take a COVID test or for minor complaints that could be resolved through their family doctor, ”the Los Angeles County Department of Health Services said. in a press release.

“Emergency room visits should be reserved for patients who feel seriously ill – for example, those who are short of breath – or who have serious health concerns and require immediate emergency care. “

You can get here – remotely

Ventura County officials said the area will close its buildings to the public as a precaution for three weeks from Wednesday. The services will always be offered online and by appointment.

“More people are contagious and are spreading the virus indoors,” Dr Robert Levin, Ventura’s public health manager, said in a statement. “Taking these steps – limiting close contact, wearing a mask indoors to avoid getting infected and infecting others, isolating yourself when symptomatic, testing and getting vaccinated – can reduce the likelihood that severe COVID affects you, your family and your community. “

As of Monday, Newport Beach also temporarily closed its town hall and community centers. In a statement, officials said that “all city services will continue, although some are only done through virtual and deposit methods and they anticipate that the new protocols will be in place until mid-January.

Los Angels City Council on Tuesday announced it would return to virtual meetings in January as officials assess the latest wave of COVID-19. Meetings were held virtually from March 2020 to June 15, 2021, when city council resumed in-person meetings twice a week, although members of the public were still only allowed to participate virtually.

Most UC campuses started the winter term on Monday with two weeks of distance learning – a move announced days before Christmas as Omicron cases prompted further caution warnings from experts health and civil servants.

What schools demand

The Los Angeles School District has ordered coronavirus tests for all students and staff before they return from winter vacation next week as a new period of high anxiety sets in among parents and educators.

Exercise in the nation’s second-largest school system means anyone who intends to travel to a campus next week to work or learn will have to show proof of a negative coronavirus test. The announcement came hours after a special school board meeting hastily called Monday morning.

Employees who are not already on duty this week will be paid two hours to take a test this week. If they wait until Monday – when they’ll be back after winter break – they’ll be given all the time they need to be tested, but no extra pay. School employees return to work on January 10. The students return on January 11.

The baseline tests would supplement the required weekly ongoing tests of all students and staff – about 500,000 swabs per week. Families can provide a PCR test or an antigen test – either from a district testing site or elsewhere. They can also use home tests. But officials are asking families to upload the results to the district’s Daily Pass system by Sunday, January 9.

The district plan gained immediate support from unions representing office workers, teachers and administrators.

Boost your teens

The federal government has started the process to make younger teens eligible for booster shots. Monday, the United States Food and Drug Administration authorized boosters for ages 12 to 15, but the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention must make a recommendation before injections are available for this age group.

“The data shows that there are no new safety concerns after a recall in this population,” the FDA said in a statement. The agency said no new cases of myocarditis, an inflammation of the heart, had been reported.

The FDA has also reduced the time allowed between the second dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech primary immunization series and a booster from six months to five months, for anyone aged 12 years and older.

In addition, the agency has allowed some children aged 5 to 11 with weakened immune systems to receive a third dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.

More tips

Here are some safety tips from the San Francisco Department of Public Health:

  • Ask everyone aged 5 and over to get the COVID-19 vaccine and get the vaccine if they are eligible.
  • Anyone who develops symptoms of COVID-19 should self-isolate and get tested as soon as possible.
  • Get tested before travel, on return, and again three to five days later.
  • Take advantage of the quick and easy home test kits available at drugstores and stores.
  • Outdoor gatherings are safer than indoor gatherings. Limit the number and size of indoor gatherings.
  • Take all precautions, including vaccinations, boosters, and tests when meeting with other people without a mask, especially the elderly or immunocompromised, and anyone who has not been vaccinated or has not yet been boosted.
  • Wear a properly fitted mask indoors and in crowded areas. For your best protection, wear an N95 or double mask with a cloth mask over a surgical mask to improve the seal. If possible, avoid wearing only a cloth mask during this flare-up.
  • Unvaccinated adults should avoid travel and gatherings outside their homes.
  • Wash your hands or use hand sanitizer often.
  • Overlay your defenses and reduce your household’s risk exposure during times of high transmission, like the current Omicron surge.


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