Many Northern Californians are looking for ways to relax and recharge with family and friends this Labor Day weekend. But dangerous wildfires and the ongoing pandemic still loom—from unhealthy air quality to higher infection risks. William Isenberg, M.D., Ph.D., chief quality and safety officer for Sutter Health, offers tips that help put safety on top of the weekend’s to-do list (and even beyond).
Enjoy the great outdoors safely: Wildfires burning in California have led to dangerous conditions and road closures in certain areas. Even outside these fire zones, drifting smoke can cause poor air quality that can trigger or worsen breathing problems for people spending time outdoors. Before venturing out for a day trip, check CalTrans for road closures, CalFire for fire conditions and check air quality conditions throughout the state at AirNow.
Mask up in public: COVID’s delta variant is extremely contagious. People severely ill with the new virus variant are filling critical care beds and ICUs across Northern California. Continuing to wear a mask in public—especially around those who may be unvaccinated—is very important. Washing your hands frequently and taking extra measures to protect loved ones who are most at risk for infection helps, too.
Get the COVID vaccine: Most ICU patients sick with COVID are unvaccinated. Some may experience lingering health problems, and some may not survive. Studies now show that people who are not vaccinated are eight times more likely to get the COVID virus, 20 times more likely to be hospitalized and 20 times more likely to die from COVID. The vaccine can make a difference.
“If you or someone you care about has resisted getting vaccinated out of concern about what you’ve heard or read, you’re not alone,” said Dr. Isenberg. “A lot of misinformation is circulating online that gets repeated from person to person. But the CDC shows all COVID-19 vaccines currently authorized in the United States are effective against COVID-19.”
According to Johns Hopkins, 174 million Americans have chosen to become fully vaccinated against the COVID virus and 22.6 million are Californians. In a commitment to safety, Sutter Health is implementing California COVID-19 public health orders and its own workforce vaccination policy. The policy requires all employees, physicians, students and other workforce members in Sutter work sites to have completed their vaccinations against COVID-19 by Sept. 30—or have received an approved accommodation for a valid medical contraindication or religious exemption.