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Protecting Against COVID-19 and its Variants

In these uncertain times, it has never been more important to stay informed and aware. The rise of the new Omicron variant of COVID-19 has resurfaced concerns in some over how to stay safe during the continuing pandemic, and we want to help alleviate your fears as much as possible and help you practice healthier hygiene habits. We have compiled a list of ways to help keep yourself and your loved ones healthy during these unprecedented times. 

Cover Your Face  

We have seen the practice of wearing a mask transform from being simply to protect your health and that of others, into something more political. However, simply covering your nose and mouth when around others greatly reduces the chances of transmission of COVID-19 and other respiratory infections. Some places require face masks; where it is not required, it is still best to wear one. Masks work best when everyone is wearing one.  

When you wear a mask, you protect others as well as yourself. COVID-19 spreads mainly from person to person through respiratory droplets. Respiratory droplets travel into the air when you cough, sneeze, talk, shout, or sing. These droplets can then land in the mouths or noses of people who are near you, or they may breathe these droplets in. Masks are a simple barrier to help prevent your respiratory droplets from reaching others. 

Wash Your Hands 

Keeping up good hygiene is an important way to keep yourself healthy. The rise of COVID-19 made us all become more aware of the way we wash our hands- and this is a good thing. Washing your hands well and often is a great way to protect yourself against the virus, and other illnesses. The CDC provides a five-step reminder for handwashing:  

1) Wet your hands with cold or warm water. 

2) Lather your hands with soap. Lather the backs of your hands, under your fingernails, and between your fingers. 

3) Scrub your hands for 20 seconds. Need a timer? Hum the tune of “Happy Birthday” twice through. It is also okay to not scrub aggressively. Scrubbing too hard can irritate your skin.  

4) Rinse your hands under clean, running water. 

5) Dry your hands using a clean towel or air dryer 

Washing hands with soap and water is the best way to get rid of germs in most situations. If soap and water are not readily available, you can use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.  

Follow Proper Sneeze and Cough Etiquette 

To help slow or stop the spread of germs, it is important to cover your nose or mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. After tissues have been used, immediately throw them away and then wash your hands. If no tissue is available, then cough or sneeze into the crook of your arm to stop the germs from spreading.  

Stay Home if You Feel Sick 

Staying home from work, school, or other social situations when you are exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19 is a simple way to protect the people in your life. Symptoms to look out for include a cough, a fever, or any shortness of breath. If you are experiencing any symptoms of being ill, whether it is from COVID-19, the flu, or a cold, then staying home will help to stop the spread and keep your loved ones safe.  

Be Aware of Your Community & Covid-19 

Staying informed about outbreaks in your local community can help you be more aware of when to practice stricter safety protocols. When COVID-19 cases are higher, it is a good idea to practice social distancing and shrink your “COVID bubble” to a smaller group of people. While this can be hard to put into practice in a consistent way, it is smart to limit the number of people with whom you interact. Wearing a mask in public during outbreaks can also protect those around you. 

Get Vaccinated or Boosted 

While the vaccine has been surrounded by myths because of its politicization, it has been shown to protect against catching COVID-19 or preventing its symptoms. The Moderna, Pfizer, and Johson & Johnson vaccines do not alter your DNA, nor do they contain ingredients like preservatives, tissues, antibiotics, food proteins, medicines, latex, or metals.  

If you received your vaccine over 2 months ago (for Johnson & Johnson) or over six months ago (for Pfizer or Moderna) then you are eligible for the vaccine booster. Boosters are a half-dose of the vaccine which increase your protection against COVID-19. Moderna has been shown to increase your protection 37-fold from the new Omicron variant.  Learn more about the effectiveness of a vaccine booster, from the CDC, here.

The key to staying safe during a pandemic is understanding how it has changed and adapting your own personal habits accordingly. Although we are still in the midst of this global health emergency, there have been some great strides made towards ending COVID-19. Wearing a mask, practicing good hygiene, getting vaccinated, and social distancing all play a part in ending the spread of COVID-19 and its variants.  

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