The Omicron Variant Surge – Protective Measures for the Holidays and Beyond

~ Submitted by the Bedford Health Department

Given the COVID-19 Omicron variant’s emerging dominance, high transmissibility and ability to evade antibodies, it is anticipated that many unvaccinated individuals and many who are vaccinated or previously infected are going to test positive for the SARS-CoV-2 in the coming weeks. A surge will depend on the actions we take to protect ourselves personally and collectively to avoid overwhelming our health care institutions.

The Bedford Health Department and the Board of Health stress the importance of following these recommendations for a safe and healthy holiday season, beginning of the New Year and return to school:

  • Get Vaccinated   with   2   doses   of   Pfizer   or   Moderna   or   one   dose   of   J&J—
  • Get an mRNA Booster if it’s been 6 months since your 2nd dose of Pfizer or Moderna or 2 months since your J&J dose

 COVID testing

  • Take a test as soon as possible before indoor gatherings. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), self-testing before an indoor event is “especially important before gathering with unvaccinated children, older individuals, those who are immunocompromised and at risk of severe illness.”
  • If you are seeing high-risk family, also avoid risky exposures a week or two before gatherings to reduce the chance of infection. Get tested if you have symptoms of COVID-19 or have close contact with someone who has COVID-19 – test
  •  If not already participating, sign up your Bedford Public Schools student for the weekly pooled COVID-19 testing program https://www.cic-

 Wear a face covering in public indoor spaces.

  • If using a cloth or disposable surgical mask, the CDC recommends the following ways to have a better fit and extra protection with cloth and disposable masks:
  • Wear two masks (disposable mask underneath and cloth mask on top)
  • Combine either a cloth mask or disposable mask with a fitter or brace
  • Knot and tuck ear loops of a 3-ply mask where they join the edge of the mask
  • For disposable masks, fold and tuck the unneeded material under the edges. (For instructions, see the following icon)
  • Use masks that attach behind the neck and head with either elastic bands or ties (instead of ear loops)
  •  To best protect against Omicron, upgrade your face covering to a KN95 respirator. The CDC reports that a well-fitting properly worn respirator may provide more protection than a mask. When supplies are available, individuals may choose to use a basic disposable
  • KN95 respirator for personal use, instead of a mask, in some situations. CDC recommends that specially labeled “surgical” N95 respirators should be prioritized for healthcare personnel. For information on types of masks and respirators and approved respirators that meet an international standard (as well as those that are fake), navigate here:

 Increase Ventilation

 Wash your hands frequently with soap and warm water. Use hand sanitizer if soap and water aren’t available.

 If you are sick or have symptoms of COVID-19, don’t host or attend a gathering.

 Isolate if symptomatic OR if testing positive and asymptomatic

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