The Omicron virus variant is beginning to roam Oregon – Everybody! Do your homework – Get Vaccinated!!
With the first cases of the Omicron variant already reported in Oregon, and as the variant continues to spread quickly across the globe, Oregon has only a few weeks to take immediate steps to prepare for yet another deadly surge in our state. Governor Kate Brown’s announcement today of the dire predictions of the impact of Omicron on Oregon is a stark warning to all Oregonians to take immediate steps to protect themselves, our communities, and our health care systems.
For nurses, and for all health care workers in Oregon, this is a particularly crucial time: the state continues to face unprecedented staffing challenges in hospitals and clinical settings in every community. The Oregon Nurses Association (ONA) is calling upon Oregonians to take all possible steps to protect their health in the face of this threat. By doing so, we can help mitigate the devastating impacts on our health care systems, and our dedicated nurses an Omicron surge.
OHSU’s modeling indicates that Oregon has a three-week window to prepare for the coming surge from Omicron – a surge that is likely to be more severe than previous Delta surges. There is no doubt that any surge in Covid infections will add additional pressure to our already strained health system, so taking steps now can have a significant impact. ONA looks forward to more details from the Governor on the state’s plans to support health care workers.
If you are not vaccinated, get vaccinated!
If you are vaccinated, get your booster shot!
In addition to vaccinations and boosters, please consider taking extra steps related to your family’s plans for upcoming holiday gatherings, including:
- Consider going virtual rather than in person. Everyone is exhausted by the ongoing impact of Covid 19, and Oregon’s nurses understand the frustration of having to be separated from our families and loved ones during the holidays. However, given the upcoming surge, please consider holding virtual gatherings, limiting the number of people who gather and ensuring high-risk individuals are protected from potential exposure.
- Wear a mask indoors and in crowded outdoor spaces if you are not fully vaccinated or have a weakened immune system. Fully vaccinated individuals should also wear a facemask indoors in areas with significant COVID-19 transmission or if gathering in crowded or poorly ventilated spaces with unvaccinated or high-risk individuals. If you’re not sure, it’s safer to wear a mask.
- Wash your hands. Handwashing is a proven tool to prevent disease transmission. Wash your hands often with soap and water or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
- Clearly communicate expectations. Even among family and friends, it can be difficult to know who is vaccinated or who is at a greater health risk from COVID-19. You can always ask about vaccinations and employ other health and safety measures like opening windows to improve indoor ventilation, meeting outside, maintaining social distance or asking unvaccinated guests to quarantine or get tested in advance.
- When in doubt, get tested. If you have COVID-19-like symptoms or have been recently exposed to COVID-19 you can visit your state’s health authority website to find COVID-19 testing options near you. You can also consider using a self-test at home before large gatherings as an extra precaution.
- Stay home if you are sick. If you have COVID-19 symptoms or are sick, stay home and avoid hosting or attending gatherings.