Covid-19 precautions to take this winter to keep everyone safe

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Sanjay Fernando

Taking precautions for COVID-19 is necessary to reduce the spread of the virus as well as get back to normal.

We are seeing a higher number of cases increase in and outside of schools with the new year beginning and everyone going back to work/school. With people who visited over the winter holidays or break, there were many opportunities to be put at risk. The new variant, Omicron, which is highly transferable and evades the original two shots, makes it important for everyone to stay safe during this time. Here are some ways you can practice conscious behavior this winter:

1. Get tested regularly

Tests have started to become increasingly more available to people throughout the past year, and this is the time to especially take advantage of that. You can get a rapid test and a PCR test from your doctor for free, or from any pharmacy within your area that offers them both. Antigen rapid tests are also available for at-home purchase, so you can test as often as you need (one every two weeks is recommended), to make sure you’re testing negative for the virus.

Free antigen rapid tests were also distributed at school on Thursday, January 6; if you haven’t picked your test yet, you can visit the main office to get it before school, after school, or during lunch.  If you’re positive, you’ll know immediately and be able to take the necessary precautions as soon as possible. It is especially important that you get tested if you’ve been exposed or have of symptoms of the virus.

2. Get your booster shot

The booster shots have recently been approved for people 12+, and the CDC highly encourages teens to get the booster when they can. You should be able to get the booster five months after the end of your first two doses, so if you got your second shot in August or earlier, you’re eligible for a booster right now. While the first two shots in the Covid-19 vaccination series help prevent the previous two variants of the virus from spreading, it has been said that the two shots do virtually nothing against Omicron, but the third shot will help. Getting the booster will also further help develop herd immunity towards the virus. 

3. Mask up

I feel like this shouldn’t really come as a surprise, but please wear your masks. In public, your masks are your outward protection from Covid-19, that and hand sanitizer. If you’re wearing a mask around someone who has the virus, the likelihood that it’ll spread to you is decreased significantly, and different types of masks offer different types of protection. Kn95 masks offer the most protection, and cloth masks offer the least. Personally, I even double mask to prevent the spread of the virus, and many people around me do the same.

4. Quarantine if you’ve been in contact with someone who’s positive, and yes, even if you’re vaccinated

Quarantining is truly the only way to prevent the spread of the virus if you have it, or were in close contact with someone who does. I know it’s plausible to think that just because you’re vaccinated you’re invincible, but that’s just not the case. Some people who’re exposed to Covid choose to not get tested because they’re already vaccinated, but by this point, they’re putting more than themselves at risk. You can still spread to others, and even feel symptoms yourself (especially if you don’t have the booster). So until you get that negative test result back, you should stay isolated, and cancel any previous plans. 

At the end of the day, being irresponsible within a time like this, not only puts yourself at risk but everyone around you as well. There are people that can’t get vaccinated or have health issues that put them at greater risk, and those people can be severely hurt by not taking this virus as seriously as it needs to be. Conscious behavior of your health and those around you can only further help our community in a time like this, and help us get back to “normal” step-by-step.

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