have enjoyed the warm summer here in Humboldt County, and I’ve been
spending time in my sunny backyard with my family, getting my annual
reminder that sunscreen is not magical and needs reapplication.
United Indian Health Services (UIHS) has even hosted some outdoor
community events at our clinics throughout the region, some for the
first time in three years. Seeing old friends, clients and coworkers
in person has been as soothing and needed as those precious sunny
summer days are to my mental health.
said, this is your monthly COVID-19 column, and while the “rules”
have changed recently, at least according to the CDC, the actual
situation across the country still suggests a need for proactive
steps, or at least that I inform you of the current state of affairs.
start with those CDC guidance changes. The CDC has “streamlined”
the COVID-19 guidance, and has removed social
distancing recommendations, quarantine and “test-to-stay” for
school. It is also no longer required to mask on public transit (but
it is recommended) or have proof of a vaccination or a negative test
before, during or after travel.
logic behind this seems to be twofold. First is the idea of “meeting
people where they are,” and not trying to force or demand action
from the public, since you may have noticed that was slightly
divisive and didn’t work as intended. Second is the acknowledgment
that COVID-19 exposure is happening regularly, and quarantining after
exposure is, unfortunately, no longer a realistic response with so
many cases still going around. COVID-19 is now posing less risk of
“medically significant” infections, so the guidance is simplified
to “stay current with your vaccines and stay home if you are sick.”
cases in California have been trending downward for a month, which is
great. Both Humboldt and Del Norte Counties are “low” or “in
the green” as far as transmission (cases and hospitalizations).
Unfortunately, there are still 8,000 cases daily (in California), and
experts suggest the true number could be 6-7 times higher. Summer is
also drawing to a close, and the colder weather will draw all of us
indoors, which has lead to a troubling surge in COVID-19 deaths the
past two years, while over 500 Americans still die daily of COVID-19.
of this is to make you despair
— the situation has been improving slowly, and there are mitigation
efforts you can take to protect yourself and your community. Check
with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention “COVID-19
by County” page
to see what level of caution you should take when out and about, or
even when traveling to another area. Being ready for the unexpected
helps me feel better when I am traveling — emergency kit for the
car, first aid kit, disinfecting wipes, masks, hand sanitizer and
antigen test kits are the new normal.
month I introduced you to Corsi-Rosenthal
and I have been building my own and teaching classes on them in the
community. These filters will remove well over 90 percent
of virus and bacteria particles in the air (also wildfire smoke!) and
are incredibly easy to make. If you are worried about the air quality
in a shared space, I encourage you to build and install a
Corsi-Rosenthal box. They
are great in school classrooms, offices and retail shops, and have a
meaningful impact on reducing the spread of COVID-19.
COVID-19 for a minute. Your grandmother was right — if you’re sick,
stay home (and get tested). If you do get infected with COVID-19, you
still need to isolate for five days whether you have symptoms or not.
COVID-19 antigen (at home, rapid) tests are available and very
helpful to use if you are experiencing symptoms — even if you think
it’s “just a cold” or “boy, my allergies are really acting
up”, or “wow, this smoke is really making my throat feel
scratchy.” And don’t forget to wash those hands!
of when you end isolation, avoid being around people who are more
likely to get very sick from COVID-19 until at least day 11, wear a
high-quality mask around people, and do not go places where you are
unable to wear a mask, including public transportation and travel
remains important for those who aren’t infected as well. As I
mentioned last month, the BA.5 variant has become the dominant strain
in most areas, and it remains infectious for the vaccinated and
previously-infected alike. This is troubling because of what is
becoming known as “long COVID.” While risks of severe infection,
hospitalization and death have decreased, incidents of long COVID
have continued for some people infected with the regular version of
COVID is still not well understood but is essentially a cluster of
late onset health symptoms brought on by COVID-19 infection. One of
the more common symptoms associated with long COVID is brain fog. I
don’t know about anyone else, but I don’t need any additional
brain fog in my life. Some other symptoms include tiredness, fatigue,
fever, difficulty breathing, headache, difficulty sleeping, joint
pain, depression, and anxiety. No. Thank. You. Very much.
approaches, and the rules are becoming recommendations. Use your
freedom to make healthy choices, and listen to your grandmother.
Lewis-Lusso (she/her) is an Infection Prevention and Control nurse at
United Indian Health Services, serving the 11,000+ clients and staff
at their six area clinics. She’s not your grandma, but also thinks
you should cover your mouth when you cough.