8 million. According to the CDC, this is the number of people who have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 in the United States. And this is not including the 30 million people who have gotten at least one dose of the vaccine.
The bottom line is that we’ve still got a long way to go before we beat the pandemic. And COVID-19 is still on the rise: as of February 6, 2021, California has had over 3 million cases, over 2,000 of which come from UCLA.
At this point, you’ve probably heard it too many times: stay six feet apart, wear a mask, etc. It’s to the point where a lot of us are tired of hearing it. But it’s never been more important to do what we can to protect ourselves and our loved ones. Here are some reminders of things we should and should not do while COVID-19 remains a threat.
Do: Participate in Virtual Activities
There are a lot of opportunities for virtual activities. You can participate in them through club events at UCLA or privately with your friends. Online games like scribbl.io or Among Us are some popular choices. You could also have movie nights or binge your favorite shows with your friends. A lot of streaming services have created “watch party” features. Disney+, for instance, has a GroupWatch feature on its service where up to seven people can join, including the host.
Don’t: Meet People in Person
The truth is simple: it’s better to be safe than sorry. Unfortunately, a negative COVID-19 test is not an excuse to meet in person. The CDC states, “the test only means that you did not have COVID-19 at the time of testing.” You will have plenty of chances to meet up in person once COVID goes away. You’re not going to die because you couldn’t meet with your friends or significant other in person, but you are are risking infection and possibly death by meeting someone in person.
Do: Take the Correction Precautions with Groceries and Other Purchases
There is the right and wrong way to handle grocery shopping. Believe it or not, sanitizing your groceries with chemicals may actually be more dangerous than safe, according to UC Davis Health, because many sanitizing products may not be for food use. Plus, we might not know how effective they really are. The safer option is to simply wash items like produce in cool water and clean them with a towel. As for boxed items or parcels, the virus can survive on cardboard for up to 24 hours. Most likely, by the time an Amazon package arrives at your doorstep, it’ll be safe. But if you’re not so sure, it’s not a bad idea to leave it untouched for a couple of days or use disinfectant on it.
Don’t: Go to Non-Essential Businesses
This includes gyms, movie theaters, and restaurants. Many non-essential establishments are small businesses, and many people have argued that we must support them. I personally mourn some of my local small restaurants that have closed down because of COVID-19. But there are ways to help these businesses while keeping yourself safe. If you want to support restaurants or other stores, see if they offer online delivery or take-out options. Gyms and other athletic centers may also offer virtual classes. It’s better than just sitting at home with nothing to do anyway.
Do: Wear Two Masks
Wearing a mask was an obvious one, but what about wearing two masks? Wearing one layer of protective face covering might not be enough, especially if you don’t have a specialized mask like an N-95 (which is restricted for use outside of healthcare settings) or a KF-94. The CDC recently updated their guidelines regarding wearing masks, now recommending that people wear a disposable mask under a cloth mask. Doing so can allow for a snug and tighter fit, so less germs enter or escape. Keep in mind, this is not the same as wearing two disposable masks, as they are not designed to create a tight fit and will expose too much airway.
Don’t: Forget to Practice Self Care
COVID-19 has changed our lives for nearly a year now, but our mental health is also really important. It is vital, therefore, that we can do what we can to minimize stress as much as possible. Finding new hobbies or virtual activities can be a good way to occupy yourself in these trying times. Personally, I took up guitar during the pandemic with all the free tutorials on Youtube. But everyone’s circumstances are different. If you are suffering from mental health problems because of the pandemic, there is help. The CDC has resources for the public to check out. But we should all keep hope for one thing. That this pandemic will be over soon. We will get our normal lives back and we will find new opportunities awaiting us.