Opinion: My family’s Omicron question: What do we do now?

But we also did something different. Before we finished breakfast, we broke the cotton swab, circled the inside of each nostril at least five times, then placed the swab in the solution and applied it to the test strip. In Omaha, my sister and her family did the same thing. Within fifteen minutes, rapid tests for Covid-19 antigen came back negative and – with at least a little more confidence – we were on our way.

Five days later, when we returned home, news about variant Omicron sweeping across the country, and indeed all over the world. What do we do now?
At one point, I hope that precautions will shove Covid-19 goes from pandemic to pandemic later this year, but that is clearly not happening – despite the combination of global vaccine distribution and effective antiviral treatments, I still believe that will get us there in the end. But in the meantime, I don’t see it as realistic trying to bring my own or my family’s behavior back to last year’s harsh practices.
First, it is quite clear that a minority in American society simply will not adhere to basic public health measures. They are against lockdowns, against masks, against virtual schools, against rational social distancing in public places like restaurants and cinemas, and now against vaccines. And without a higher rate of cooperation, the rest of us would have to live in the disease-ridden world these fugitives created. It’s not fair. It made me very angry.
Omicron coronavirus variant is an important test for Biden
But that is the reality of the situation, especially since many Republicans appear to be seeking political profit in the spread the vaccine wrong information and fear, battle vaccine mission, then decrying the pandemic continues as if it were President Joe Biden’s fault (not that he’s innocent, more on that below).
Second, and here’s the good news, we have tools in December 2021 that we simply didn’t have last winter. We currently have rapid Covid-19 antigen tests available at home, most of the time, at corner pharmacies and through online retailers. They’re not perfect, with one study showing accuracy rate about 80%, but when microcommunities like my family and my sister’s family all use them, you can be pretty assured that no one could have contracted Covid-19 at that time. And quite comfortable, when we’re all vaccinated, that’s good enough for me.
Unfortunately, the United States has lag other countries in approving the tests and not investing in making them available to everyone in the US, the way (for example) the German and UK governments have done.
We also have better masks. When the pandemic started, not only bewilderment about the mask utility, but N95 or equivalent medical mask just not available, even to medical professionals. Now I can order 50 KN95 masks (provides one same level of protection as N95 mask used by medical professionals) for under $40 online and expect to have them by the end of the week. And let’s not forget the great reassurance that vaccinations and boosters can give you, because the majority of Americans hospitalized with Covid-19 are still recovering. unvaccinated. It’s a tool that we also didn’t have a year ago.

I’m fighting my anxiety about an Omicron winter, which I know won’t help, by shifting my energy from fighting for social-level solutions to just trying to make it happen. take steps to protect those close to me without abandoning society. I hate it, but it’s the best I can do in the short term. And I don’t want to do it alone. Even within this narrow sphere of activity, government can play a large role.

How to fight Covid-19 while scientists wait for answers on Omicron
When the Delta variant entered my family and infected all of us, fast test issued our first warning. But there is no way to connect that positive result to the tracking software in my state to alert those around us. It makes me think that we still don’t have effective tracking and tracing in this hyper-digital and connected age.
Furthermore, rapid tests or high-quality masks are not free, and the most vulnerable will be those least able to pay. I was delighted when Governor Larry Hogan of Maryland, a Republican, distribute 500,000 quick tests before Thanksgiving. The federal government should start a similar national program on a much larger scale.
Similarly, President Trump has been many and right be censured for canceling plans to mail 650 million N95 masks to Americans in 2020. But where are the masks in Biden? The Biden administration has gone all out on a vaccine, which is not the panacea foretold (thanks to anti-vaxxers and their political allies), and it’s a tragedy. But it’s been too long to implement newer measures. Biden keeps talking about increasing output, but the proof will be when masks and testing actually reach the mail.

Furthermore, if we are going to focus on vaccines, then we need a better policy of providing paid time off for all workers who suffer side effects from vaccines, or even more so, when they get sick from Covid-19. There are some paid leave policies in the Covid-19 relief bills, but they were never strong enough, are about to expire, and demand has not changed.

The long battle against the pandemic is likely to be fraught with problems. We must reach endemicity to protect those most at risk. We must find a way not to let the bad guys disrupt the basic functioning of society.

Meanwhile, Hanukkah is here, Christmas is coming, and my multi-faith family yearns for community. With quick tests, good masks, smart communication, we can overcome this fear of Omicron without repeating the isolation of last winter. But there is still a long road ahead until we become perfect once again.


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