The HSU student’s guide to COVID-19 in spring 2022

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There is currently a surge in COVID-19 infections worldwide and in Humboldt County due to the rise of the Omicron variant. In an article titled “Potential Rapid Increase of Omicron Variant Infections in the United States,” the CDC has cautioned that this iteration of the virus is more transmissible than previous forms.

“Increases in infections are most likely due to a combination of two factors: increased transmissibility and the ability of the variant to evade immunity conferred by past infection or vaccination,” the article states.

Most spring semester classes at HSU are planned to take place in person, even as county infection rates soar beyond any previous peaks. According to county data, Humboldt County saw a peak of 256 new COVID-19 cases on Jan 3. This dwarfed the Delta variant peak of 101 new cases on Aug 9, 2021.

However, hospitalizations remain well below the rates recorded during the Delta peak of August 2021, according to the NYT’s data sets.

It is inevitable that some students will be exposed to and catch COVID-19. The responsibility of each is to limit their personal risk while also protecting others from infection.

Following the HSU masking guidelines and getting your vaccine booster as required by the University will make you less likely to contract the virus. Vaccine boosters also greatly reduce the chance of a severe or even symptomatic infection.

A study released by the UK Health and Security Agency found that, “Among those who had received 2 doses of Pfizer or Moderna, effectiveness [against symptomatic disease] dropped from around 65 to 70% down to around 10% by 20 weeks after the second dose.”

Boosted individuals enjoy a re-up of their protection: “65 to 75% [at 2-4 weeks,] dropping to … 40 to 50% from 10+ weeks after the booster,” according to the study’s findings.

“Deadline for full vaccination, including a booster shot, is Jan. 23,” according to the CSU Chancellor’s vaccine mandate. Exemptions are available, on the condition that recipients commit to a weekly test.

After a positive COVID-19 test, you are required to contact Student Health & Wellbeing Services at (707) 826-3146 and report your infection. You may also be advised to get a PCR test if you tested positive with a home test.

Testing positive for COVID-19 means you should also keep a close eye on your personal health. Mad River Hospital’s guidelines for at-home assessment of COVID-19 symptoms state that a persistent fever of 103-104°F, bloody material produced when coughing, and/or difficulty breathing are signs that you should go to the ER.

In the absence of more severe symptoms, the hospital’s website advises that infected persons “keep warm and rest as much as possible … take plenty of fluids … and for fever, take Tylenol in normal doses.”

Once you’ve taken care of your health, you should also take steps to limit the exposure of people around you to the virus.

According to Humboldt County isolation and quarantine guidelines, those who test positive for COVID-19 must isolate for at least 5 days.

“Isolation can end if a test collected on or after day 5 is negative and the individual is not experiencing symptoms or symptoms are resolving,” states the county website. The guidelines also advised to “wear a well-fitting mask around others for a total of 10 days.”

Graphic by Morgan Hancock

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