The whole world is fighting the pandemic for the third year in a row now. Hope surged in 2021 when the vaccines were finally unveiled. In no time, multiple U.S. cities reached herd immunity. Travel restrictions were lifted in some areas as a result. Schools reopened, and employees returned to their actual workplaces.
But a new variant emerged, spreading faster than the previous variant, delta, and the original SARS-CoV-2 virus. The omicron variant has reached the U.S. quickly, contributing to the continuously rising cases of COVID-19 in the country. As of January 1, 2022, the total number of cases surpassed 2 million in one week. This, of course, threatens businesses and educational institutions. There could be another lockdown if no improvement happens.
Thankfully, the vaccines are expected to protect against severe COVID-19, including that of the omicron variant. But the number of unvaccinated people still draws risks. Hence, as medical professionals continue to find ways to end the pandemic, these are the things individuals and businesses can do to stay safe:
- Get Vaccines or Booster Shots
The best way for individuals to protect themselves from the virus is to get vaccinated. Though it won’t make them immune to COVID-19, at least they can prevent hospitalization and/or death. According to the CDC, the current vaccines effectively prevent severe COVID-19. Hence, people should get their shots for the public’s interest. If individuals 18 years old and above have completed two doses already, they should get their booster shots as soon as they can.
- Continue Wearing Masks and Social Distancing
When the vaccines have been released, people are most excited about taking off their masks and hugging their friends. But both practices remain unsafe. Everyone should continue wearing masks, especially in indoor spaces. And, of course, they should still keep their distance from others, even if they’re already vaccinated. A vaccinated person could interact with an unvaccinated one, and if they happen to carry the virus, they will put the life of the unvaccinated person at risk.
- Get Treatment for Underlying Health Conditions
People with underlying health conditions are more susceptible to severe COVID-19. Some of them may also face risks when given the vaccines. Hence, they should get advice from their personal care physicians before getting the shots. If their condition requires treatment, they shouldn’t delay it.
Autoimmune diseases, in particular, are a tricky case. Since most of their patients are on immunosuppressive agents, their bodies can become even more vulnerable to other diseases. Sufferers of lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, and multiple sclerosis are most at risk. They’re also the ones most hesitant to get the vaccines. However, they could be at a higher risk for severe COVID-19.
Other autoimmune patients at risk are those with thyroid problems. The American Thyroid Association said that thyroid disease patients should get vaccinated for COVID-19 only if they are medically stable. If they have a history of allergic reactions to vaccines, they should proceed with caution or seek approval from their doctor. Thyroid symptoms have excellent treatments, so sufferers shouldn’t put up with their condition in silence.
- Delay Return to the Office
If returning to their workplaces will put employees and customers at risk, companies should continue the remote work setup. Many companies have already done this, so others should follow their lead. It’s smarter to keep working from home than to return to the office, only for another lockdown to occur.
- Postpone In-person Events and Celebrations
Organizations are understandably frustrated about not having holiday parties for the second year in a row. Sadly, they would have to wait longer. Any in-person events, from departmental meetings to product launches, should be put on hold until they’re declared safe.
- Go Back to Remote Operations
Some schools and companies already reopened their doors last year. But they should consider going back to remote operations again. Cornell, Princeton, NYU, Harvard, and George Washington University announced going fully or partially remote for this year. Standard also required their vaccinated students to get booster shots.
- Mandate Vaccinations to High-risk Workers
Daycare workers and other people whose professions involve close contact with clients must get vaccinated. In their case, it’s not optional. Without getting vaccinated, they won’t just harm clients and themselves but also their organization’s reputation.
- Require Masks and Social Distancing in Business Establishments
Essential business establishments should keep requiring masks on their customers. Anyone who disobeys should be politely denied entry or escorted out. In these trying times, everyone has to be considerate of one another. As such, service and retail employees must insist that their rules be followed, with no exceptions.
It’s a sad reality that we’re still in a pandemic. But we have no way around it, only through. Let’s continue following health protocols, and we might end this year back to normal.