What is safe to do now? A healthcare professional explains her choices during the omicron push.

Over the past two weeks, the average number of new people in Sacramento County who report testing positive for COVID-19 each day has more than tripled. The surge is the largest since the pandemic began, thanks in large part to the contagious omicron variant and holiday gatherings, said Sacramento County public health officer Dr. Olivia Kasirye.

But the surge has not been met with the same rigor as present earlier in the pandemic, leaving businesses and individuals to make their own security calls. Last week, the county announced it would make no effort to enforce business closures, require vaccinations and restrict indoor dining.

With people largely left to their own devices as they navigate the ever-changing guidance amid testing shortages and rising cases, figuring out what is safe to do right now – even do the grocery store – can kick off an endless round of mental gymnastics.

Dr Kirstin Bobbins-Domingo said it was important to view the current environment as a “spectrum of risk”. She leads the UC San Francisco COVID Community Public Health Initiative and chairs the Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics at UCSF.

Bobbins-Domingo spoke to CapRadio about how she thinks about preventative measures during the omicron surge, both in general and when she has to leave the house for specific activities.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

On his general state of mind regarding the surge

While I know it’s likely that we’re all going to be exposed to some degree, all of our actions play a part in making sure the wave isn’t as high as it could be if we ignored it. the wind.

We’re in an environment towards which some have taken a very fatalistic attitude – “Oh, everyone’s going to figure it out, so it’s not worth doing anything about.”

I think for all of these people, I would like you to keep in mind families with children under 5, those immunocompromised people who have had three vaccines and are still not completely protected from the vaccine.

It’s easy to say, “I’m not going to get sick myself. Everyone should have protected themselves.

But it’s important to remember that there are children under 5 and families caring for and living with children under 5, as well as immunocompromised people at any age, to that vaccines won’t work as well. [for].

We all still have a responsibility to do all we can. To put our little brick in the wall, to create a wall to protect these people for whom, whatever happens, they will continue to be at risk. The only thing we can do as a community is try to reduce some amount of this transmission that is happening. It is always at the center of my concerns.

If she is doing certain activities right now

Grocery, post office, similar errands: Yes

Every time you leave the house, when there are a lot of people around you who might be infected – where we are now there are the estimates of 1 in 10 [people] get infected – you are going to have some risk. But I feel like it’s something I have to do. I continue to shop. I don’t spend long periods there, I have a quality mask, I am vaccinated and boosted. And it’s an activity I still engage in, acknowledging that I’m at risk because we all are, right now.

Running, walking, exercising outside: Yes

You benefit from the ventilation to the outside, you benefit from the natural distancing from others and the ability to avoid being in large groups of people. There are plenty of people around, even outside of the Bay Area, who are definitely wearing masks, and you can decide whether to put your mask on and take it off depending on what you’re doing outside.

Pamela Gustava, Kristen Cox and Shannon Brinkley walk in Sacramento on Monday, May 17, 2021.Andrew Nixon / CapRadio

Book a hotel/Airbnb room for a stay: May be

In February, if you find yourself in one of the California urban areas that is already approaching the likely peak [of the omicron surge] at the end of January, we will experience a recession.

If you’re trying to book it for Martin Luther King Jr. weekend, it’s going to be a lot riskier than, say, Feb. 14, if we can tell.

I’m not so worried about hotel rooms, if it’s newer ventilated hotel rooms or Airbnb ventilated. I worry about environments where I find myself in a situation where I can’t control or have more limited control over airflow. I am very aware of my interactions with the other people there.

If you are going with your family to a new environment, but you are only surrounded by the same people as in your old environment, the main thing that has changed is the new people you could come into contact with and the ventilation , masking, other things under your control. That’s how I would think of it.

Attend a small indoor gathering where everyone is confirmed vaccinated: masks on

That’s all that makes the environment risky. What is your tolerance for this risk? And how important is it that you really can’t give it up for a few more weeks? It is this combination of things that counts in my decision making. If I had a very important family sentimental occasion where we wanted to get together, I would do everything – vaccinate, test, and I could still have it with, you know, a limited number of close family members.

I know that we, even at UCSF, are looking at the end of January as a place where we will reintroduce small group events for teaching and other types of things.

But when you’re in those environments and you take off all your masks and stay there for long periods of time, like you do with a dinner party, those things mean you take off another layer of protection and that’s what makes it makes it even more risky.

For a given person, you might decide to take that risk, but you might not decide to take that risk and with your older relatives who come with you or with another person who might be at risk for serious illness.

Attending an indoor concert or comedy show with vaccine requirements: No

When there are so many people infected, I don’t do the big crowds, I really don’t. Even with a vaccine or testing requirement, because the odds are just too high. It’s just a numbers game, especially if it’s a tight crowd where there really isn’t much distance like at a packed concert.

Fans wear masks inside the arena before an NHL hockey game between the Los Angeles Kings and Nashville Predators on Thursday, Jan. 6, 2022, in Los Angeles.AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez

Go to an indoor gym: No

There’s just nothing about an indoor gym that appeals to me right now, although I have to say that one of my favorite workout activities is running on a treadmill. I’m afraid the ventilation isn’t there in an indoor gym. I’m afraid it’s very difficult for people to wear masks in an indoor gym. And it’s that forced exhalation, that exhalation that makes indoor gymnasiums a risky environment, there’s no doubt about it.

Everything about an indoor gym works against you in this environment.

Eating indoors: No

I don’t do that now. If I take off my mask, I know people better [with] to whom I remove my mask.

You can find walk-in community testing sites in Sacramento here, and this guide walks you through frequently asked questions about COVID-19 testing.

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