As normalcy returns here in Southern California since the pandemic hit in March of 2020, we should continue to stay informed and up to date with COVID-19 news and changes.
Every outing, gathering, and activity will always carry some level of risk. Keeping in mind these guidelines would be important to continue remaining safe while going about our usual daily lives.
As of 12/20/2022 – will be updated periodically (initial publish date: 03.05.2020)
Every outing, gathering, and activity will always carry some level of risk. It is important to remain safe while going about our usual daily lives. Keep in mind the following to stay safe while going out:
- Vaccine and Mask Requirement – Confirm with businesses or events about vaccination and masking requirements before going.
- While requirements may be lifted, it is okay to continue wearing a well fitted mask.
- Honoring different etiquettes – Some people may not be comfortable with hugging or handshakes; honor what is comfortable for others.
- Ok to Say No – It is okay to say no if you are uncomfortable gathering.
- Do not feel obligated to say yes to invitations to events or outings. If you feel uncomfortable going out, meeting with people, or scheduling appointments, it is okay to say no.
- Read more about how it’s ok to say no.
- Assess before going out – Keep in mind:
- 1. Setting – Outdoor activities carry less risk than indoor ones.
- 2. Proximity – Staying physically distant lowers your risk of infection compared to close contact with others.
- 3. Duration – The more time you spend in contact with people, the greater your risk.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shares the following tips to protect yourself and others (CDC, 2021a):
- Stay Up-to-date on COVID-19 vaccines – This significantly lowers the risk of getting very sick, being hospitalized, or dying from COVID-19.
- Look for a nearby place where you can get vaccinated here.
- Get Tested for COVID-19 if needed – Use home self-tests or go to testing centers if you observe any symptoms of COVID-19.
- Additional Prevention Measures
- Wearing a well-fitting mask and keeping distance from others can be additional forms of protection for indoor crowded spaces. Improving ventilation, such as opening windows, can also lower the risk of the virus spreading.
- Other basic hygiene
- Wash your hands often (20 seconds)
- Avoiding touching your eyes, nose, and mouth
- Use hand sanitizers that contains at least 60% alcohol
- Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue or cough or sneeze into your elbow.
- Cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched objects and surfaces.
COVID Vaccines and Treatment
Since December 11, 2020, several vaccines have been granted Emergency Use Approval (EUA) or full Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval:
- Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine (FDA approved 8/23/21 for 16+, then EUA updated for 12+ on 5/10/21). (2-dose vaccine)
- Moderna COVID-19 vaccine (FDA approved 1/31/22 for 18+) (2-dose vaccine)
- Janssen COVID-19 vaccine (Johnson and Johnson; initially granted EUA 2/27/21 for 18+) (1 dose vaccine)
- Novavax COVID-19 vaccine (granted EUA 3/13/22 for 18+) (2-dose vaccine)
The EUA allows faster access to medical products during a health emergency when no other approved options are available (FDA, 2022). FDA approval means that the public can be very confident that the vaccine meets the high standards for safety and effectiveness (FDA, 2020). The Pfizer vaccine is still available through EUA for children 5-12 years old.
The FDA granted EUA for Moderna and Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine for use as a single booster dose at least two months following primary or booster vaccination (FDA, 2022). The Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine, Bivalent, is authorized for individuals 18 years and older. The Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine, Bivalent, is authorized for individuals 12 years and older. These bivalent vaccines protect against the original strain of COVID as well as the current BA.4 and BA.5 strains of the omicron variant.
There are many treatments now available. FDA has granted approval and EUA for several treatments that can be used by individuals who are more likely to get very sick from COVID-19. These treatments include antiviral treatments as well as monoclonal antibody treatments (FDA, 2021). Additionally, oral treatments for COVID-19 such as Paxlovid and Molnupiravir have received EUA and may be available at local pharmacies. Consult with your physician on what options are available.
What is COVID-19?
COVID-19 is an infectious disease that spreads easily and rapidly by person-to-person transmission. Symptoms of COVID-19 have ranged from mild to severe and can be similar to the symptoms of the common cold and flu. As of August 11, 2022, the CDC has reported the symptoms for the virus include (CDC, 2022):
- Fever or chills
- Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
- Sore throat
- New loss of taste or smell
- Congestion or runny nose
- Muscle or body aches
- Nausea or vomiting
If you think you are experiencing symptoms of the virus, get tested and stay home. Additionally, the CDC is encouraging individuals to be aware of emergency warning signs including difficulty breathing, persistent pain or pressure in the chest, new confusion, or bluish lips/face. Please seek medical help immediately if you are experiencing these symptoms.
Testing for the Virus
Testing is now more widely available at local pharmacies as well as the availability of at-home tests. Read more about COVID-19 testing here.
Testing in California – In the state of California, there are multiple testing locations now available. California residents to search for nearby test centers here.
Los Angeles County
- If you have health insurance, contact your doctor or health plan to get tested.
- If you do not have health insurance, you can get a free COVID-19 test at a community location.
- Click here to search for testing locations near you.
- Mobile COVID-19 Clinics are providing vaccines and test kits to uninsured individuals.
- For more information about testing in Orange County, visit the Orange County Health Care Agency website here.
- Talk to your doctor or healthcare provider to get a COVID-19 test.
- Contact your local pharmacy to find out if they offer COVID-19 testing.
- Find testing locations near you here.
- Costs for COVID-19 tests may vary based on the laboratory the test is sent to, geographic location, and insurance provider. Currently, insurance providers must cover up to eight free tests per plan member per month (Kritz, 2022). Be sure to bring your insurance card to the pharmacy.
- Medicare – Medicare covers up to eight over-the-counter COVID-19 tests each month (Medicare, 2022). Visit the Medicare COVID-19 page for more information.
- Uninsured (US. Department of Health and Human Services, 2021)- Free or low-cost options may still be available for those without insurance.
- The federal locator identifies testing sites and pharmacies that offer low-or no-cost testing.
CDC updated their masking recommendations on September 9, 2022. The prevention measures may differ depending on the level of spread in your local community. You may be able to check the level of spread for various counties here.
Those who are older, or have certain medical conditions, may have an increased risk for COVID-19. Those who are in this category should consult with their healthcare provider if they need a mask or respirator for certain community spread levels.
For the state of California, masks are required for everyone, regardless of vaccination status for the following settings (CDPH, 2022):
- Healthcare settings
- Long term care settings and adult/senior care facilities
Mask wearing for all individuals for in indoor public settings and businesses will be dependent on the CDC community level spread (CDPH, 2022).
For local rules and regulations, view here:
Recommended Masks (CDC 2021b).
Cloth, disposable or N95, KN95 and other masks that meet a certain standard certified by National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, are all valid masks to use. Masks could also be used by using two layers (one cloth, one disposable) as well.
CDC recommends using masks with the best fit, protection, and comfort. The important point is to have masks tightly around your nose and mouth and adjust ear loops to reduce any gaps.
Make sure that the masks are official and not counterfeit. Additionally, make sure the disposable masks are disposed after a day of use, or when it’s wet or dirty.
For details, visit the CDC website here: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/about-face-coverings.html
- If you are traveling keep in mind the following:
- Stay up to date on vaccination for COVID-19.
- Consider testing before traveling
- Check for community spread level at your destination, and for any possible local restrictions that may exist
- If you are at-risk for severe COVID-19, take extra precautions to ensure safety. Consult with your health care provider what extra layer of protection you can consider.
- For international travel, look at CDC’s guidelines here about before, during and after travel.
- For domestic travel, look at CDC’s guidelines here about travel guidelines, and level of spread.
Government Resources and Health Orders
Make sure to stay up-to-date on your area’s public health policies and health officer orders.
For LA County’s latest public health order: http://publichealth.lacounty.gov/media/coronavirus/reopening-la.htm#orders
For Orange County’s latest public health order: https://occovid19.ochealthinfo.com/article/oc-health-officers-orders-recommendations
For Ventura County’s latest public health order: https://www.venturacountyrecovers.org/
Here are some websites that may be helpful:
Other Articles Written By Keiro on COVID-19
- Being a Healthy News Consumer
- Remote Exercise
- Mindfulness and Meditation
- Stress Management during COVID-19
- Tips for Caregivers during COVID-19
- Advanced Care Planning
California Department of Public Health. (2022). Guidance for the Use of Face Coverings. Retrieved from: https://www.cdph.ca.gov/Programs/CID/DCDC/Pages/COVID-19/guidance-for-face-coverings.aspx
CDC. (2021a). Protecting Yourself. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/prevention.html
CDC, (2021b). Types of Masks. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/types-of-masks.html
CDC. (2022). Symptoms of COVID-19. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/symptoms-testing/symptoms.html
Food and Drug Administration. (2020). FDA Approves First Treatment for COVID-19. Retrieved from https://www.fda.gov/news-events/press-announcements/fda-approves-first-treatment-covid-19
Food & Drug Administration. (2021). Know Your Treatment Options for COVID-19. Retrieved from: https://www.fda.gov/consumers/consumer-updates/know-your-treatment-options-covid-19
Food and Drug Administration. (2022). Emergency Use Authorization. Retrieved from https://www.fda.gov/emergency-preparedness-and-response/mcm-legal-regulatory-and-policy-framework/emergency-use-authorization
Kritz, F. (2022). Where to Find Affordable COVID Tests After the Free Kits Are Gone. Retrieved from https://www.verywellhealth.com/low-cost-covid-tests-after-free-white-house-tests-end-6504462
Medicare. (2022). Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) diagnostic tests. Retrieved from https://www.medicare.gov/coverage/coronavirus-disease-2019-covid-19-diagnostic-tests
US. Department of Health and Human Services. (2021). COVID-19 Care for Uninsured Individuals. Retrieved from https://www.hhs.gov/coronavirus/covid-19-care-uninsured-individuals/index.html