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🐦 Corvid-19 🐦 : What Experts Are Saying About Omicron

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Jackdaw, Black Bird, Corvid, Crow, Animal, Nature, Beak

Pretty, pretty jackdaw courtesy of TheOtherKev.

Welcome to the new year, with a new variant alive and well! There’s A Lot Of Information swirling out there, and I’m deeply grateful to all of the public health and science communicators disseminating accessible information to the public. I’ve been thinking about curation as care, especially amid the attention economy, and after many conversations with loved ones last year about digital archives, memories, and memes (meme-ories?), I’m especially appreciating the care that often comes with the act of sending media and links to one another when we’re reminded of each other. I also adore birds, and the rep that corvids have for stealing (and gifting!) shiny things that caught their eyes.

So, reader, these are my shiny Twitter-public-health-gifts to you.

An opening note…

In light of the current peak in cases, the high transmissibility of this variant, and the variant’s ability to bypass and infect even vaccinated people with boosters, a very hard but necessary pill to swallow is that not only are we all once again vulnerable in the face of a new variant, but also that we can’t forget about the most vulnerable people in our lives. We don’t know who we can inadvertently pass infections along to, and whose immune systems can’t fight off infections as easily.

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I’m thinking about this haunting and prescient passage from astrologer Alice Sparkly Kat’s 2022 beginning-of-year horoscope:

It’s important, I think, to keep in mind that the choices we make now around how to handle an infectious disease that impacts the old and immunocompromised will be choices that affect not some of us but all of us. We are not just making decisions around how we treat our old and disabled kin today. All of us are temporarily able bodied. Those who live abled bodied now are also making decisions around how we expect to be treated when we are old and when we become disabled. If we ever treat the ill and the old as burdens, we are treating our own futures as burdens.

What Do You Do When You Test Positive?

To start off, my fellow BAS writer Abraham wrote about CDC update from Dec, 27, 2021 on quarantining when you test positive here, and I recommend you check it out for the full (and I think, very clear) breakdown. To quote a gem from his piece:

These new updates are only for people who are asymptomatic. That essentially means not sick, but contagious. If you’re still symptomatic or if you develop symptoms after the five days, stay in the house longer, ass.

Here’s the information in tweet-form from vice dean of UC San Francisco’s department of Population Health and Health Equity, Kirsten Bibbins-Domingo. Make sure to end isolation after five days only if there are no symptoms and you test negative on day five. If a test is not possible, then 10 days of isolation are recommended.

 

A Virus Expert’s Take On How To Navigate The Next Month

It’s the ultimate FAQ on a lot of things we’ve all been wondering about how to proceed amid COVID, with Jonathan Eisen, director of UC Davis’ Microbiome Special Research Program.

Is this me, trojan horsing you, into reading an article? A little bit — but some key takeaways that I hope will make you consider checking the whole thing out. (And I get it, I Too Have A Goldfish Attention Span)

  • People who are boosted are still getting infected
  • Vaccines are effective in reducing the risk of severe illness and death, and even more so with a booster
  • Any indoor space is a huge risk with unfiltered air (“6 feet apart” is outdated)
  • Surfaces aren’t a risk (assuming you’re not licking them and you wash your hands)
  • Don’t take your mask off indoors
  • Saying everyone is going to get Omicron is the wrong attitude, we can make it so that not everyone gets it

SF Has Some Of The Highest Vaccination Rates, But Omicron Is Still Infecting Us

UC San Francisco saw one in 12 asymptomatic tests come out as positive last week.

Read: one in 12 people you encounter who seem perfectly okay because they don’t have symptoms, could test positive for COVID. Keep your masks on when you can!

Just to keep us all humble, as chair of UCSF’s department of medicine Bob Wachter points out,  although San Francisco has such high rates of vaccinations (81 percent with two or more shots), cases are skyrocketing.

In a reversal of the earlier stages of the pandemic, currently the highest case rates are in predominantly-white and affluent neighborhoods: the Marina, Hayes Valley, and Russian Hill, as the SF Chronicle reports. The Marina’s seven-day rolling average of new COVID cases was 141, the highest in SF, and seven times higher than that of the same week in December 2020.

According to the Department of Public Health, approximately 69 percent of Marina residents are fully vaccinated, one of the lowest in the city, among the Presidio (61 percent), Russian Hill (72 percent), Lone Mountain (61 percent), Lakeshore (41 percent), compared to about 90 percent in the Bayview, and ~80 percent for neighborhoods like the Mission, the Castro, and Bernal Heights.

What’s Up With “False Negatives” On Rapid Tests?

It is possible to have symptoms but test negative because our vaccines work! Symptoms now precede contagiousness because our bodies are better equipped by vaccines to fight the virus, epidemiologist and immunologist Michael Mina notes:

Some notes from a contact tracer:

Here’s How To Get Your Hands On A Real N95 Mask

“If you really want no exposure, you have to wear the right type of mask,” Monica Gandhi, an infectious disease specialist at the University of California, San Francisco, said to the Wall Street Journal in an article about the limitations of cloth masks. As WSJ reports: “Gandhi recommends N95 masks, which are certified in the U.S., or the KN95, KF94 and FFP2 masks, which are certified in China, South Korea and Europe respectively. If those aren’t available, she recommends double masking—a multilayered cloth mask tightly on top of a surgical mask. Surgical masks are made of polypropylene, which has electrostatic charge characteristics that block the virus.”

Last, But Absolutely Not Least, Please, Please, Please, Do Not Forget Vulnerable People Remain Extremely At-Risk In Getting COVID

Just to repeat what I opened this with – in light of the current peak in cases, the heightened contagiousness of this variant, and the variant’s ability to bypass and infect even vaccinated people with boosters high transmissibility even with vaccinations, a very hard but necessary pill to swallow is that not only are we all once again vulnerable in the face of a new variant, but also that we can’t forget about the most vulnerable people in our lives. We don’t know who we can inadvertently pass infections along to, and whose immune systems will struggle to fight off infections as easily.

Alice Sparkly Kat’s 2022 beginning-of-year horoscope, which I’ll leave you with:

It’s important, I think, to keep in mind that the choices we make now around how to handle an infectious disease that impacts the old and immunocompromised will be choices that affect not some of us but all of us. We are not just making decisions around how we treat our old and disabled kin today. All of us are temporarily able bodied. Those who live abled bodied now are also making decisions around how we expect to be treated when we are old and when we become disabled. If we ever treat the ill and the old as burdens, we are treating our own futures as burdens.

 

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Jessica Z

Jessica Z

Listening, dancing, writing (in that order, mostly!) -- a product of the internet, always excited to talk about digital/algorithmic agency, fate, and selfhood, and looking for ways to contribute to cultural and artistic community/infrastructure in San Francisco and beyond. Say hi online (www.jyz.digital) or in the crowd of an upcoming show!

1 Comment

  1. January 4, 2022 at 5:01 pm — Reply

    Get vaxxed.💉
    Get boosted.💉
    Mask up (N95, KN95, or KF94 only – no more cloth) 😷
    Social distance to six feet.↔️
    Just stay home.🛏️

    We shouldn’t be starting our third year of this shit. Let’s not do a fourth.

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