Friday, April 23, 2021

Guest post: College students: Think you’re immune from COVID-19? Think again

Avalon Aragon is a public health student at the George Washington University who is interning with APHA’s Get Ready campaign. Earlier this year, she was diagnosed with COVID-19. She is sharing her experience with COVID-19 — how she felt, what she did and what she’s learned.  

How did I get COVID-19? To be honest, I’m not sure. I had a normal weekend and did the same things I usually carefully do with my social bubble. The members of my bubble — who agree to follow safety precautions and limit contact with other people — went on walks, did grocery shopping and otherwise safely spent time together. Then the week started. People in my bubble started to feel sick. We all got tested for COVID-19, and most of our group was positive, including me. 

Right away, I felt so many emotions. I was scared, sad, upset, worried and stressed. The local health department called me to do contact tracing. They helped me to talk with everyone I’d recently had contact with. It was hard to tell people I had COVID-19, but I knew it was for the best to keep everyone safe and healthy. 

For the next 10 days, I followed my doctor’s recommendations: I drank lots of fluids, ate balanced meals, got lots of sleep and stayed away from others. I also let my professors and bosses know my situation. Everyone was understanding. They told me to focus on my health and to not worry about work or due dates. I kept a log of my symptoms, which fortunately were mild. With the help of my friends, I was able to get necessities delivered to me so I did not have to leave my apartment. 

Overall, the experience was an emotional one. It was hard to be alone for 10 straight days. I did not have my parents to take care of me. I wasn’t able to see my friends and do things we always do, like our daily walks. I took time to rest and focused on getting better. I’m so grateful I didn’t have severe symptoms and was able to fully recover, as did my friends in my bubble.

Moving forward from COVID-19
I was very fortunate not to become severely ill from COVID-19. A lot of people my age think that they aren’t going to get sick from this, or that they won’t pass it to others. But that’s not true. 
Last summer, people under 30 made up more than 20% of COVID-19 cases, and they were very much giving it to other people around them, including their friends and families. When young adults get COVID-19, they end up hospitalized in intensive care about 20% of the time. Since the pandemic began in the U.S. last year, more than 2,000 people ages 18-29 in the U.S. have died from COVID-19. In light of my own experience, those facts are very sobering to me. It could have been much, much worse.

I know there are many people who haven’t fully recovered from COVID-19 like I did. The long-term effects some people have — including young people — are scary. Wearing a mask and following other health and safety guidelines are important to both end this pandemic and protect those at high risk for severe illness.

Even though I’ve recovered, I continue to follow guidelines to protect myself and others from COVID-19. I wash my hands, wear a mask and maintain physical distance. I’m looking forward to getting vaccinated! Now that COVID-19 vaccines are open to all, I highly recommend that everyone my age get theirs too.

This experience was not an enjoyable one, and I hope other college students continue to take care and remember it’s not just their lives they’re risking. 

Check out these tips for college students from CDC for more information on how to stay safe.

Monday, April 05, 2021

Life after Being Fully Vaccinated

Photo By FG Trade courtesy iStockphoto

If you are able to receive one of the three COVID-19 vaccines that are now available, do it! These vaccines will help protect you and others from getting very sick with COVID-19. When you do get your vaccine some things will change and some things will stay the same.

When are you considered fully vaccinated?

For the two-dose vaccines (Moderna and Pfizer) you are fully vaccinated two weeks after your second dose. For the one-dose vaccine (Johnson & Johnson) you are fully vaccinated two weeks after getting just one shot

What will change?

Once you are fully vaccinated you can socialize with other fully vaccinated people without wearing masks. You may also gather with unvaccinated people from one other household, as long as those people are not at a high risk for COVID-19. If you are exposed to COVID-19, you will not have to quarantine or get tested unless you show symptoms. You still should not socialize with individuals that are at high risk for COVID-19.   

What will stay the same?

Mask wearing and physical distancing in public areas will remain the same. Continue to avoid large gatherings with people from multiple households. Get tested if you have any COVID-19 symptoms, and stay away from other people until you feel better and get a negative test result. Once you are fully vaccinated, you can travel domestically and continue to follow CDC and airline guidelines.

We are still seeing too many cases of COVID-19 because not everyone is following the best practices we know will help stop the pandemic. That is why it’s so important to continue to wear a mask and practice physical distancing. Help protect others and do your part to end this pandemic.

Wednesday, January 06, 2021

Plan with the pack! New calendar out now

Everything’s better with friends. That’s true for getting prepared for emergencies – and for the animal friends in our new calendar! 

Plan with the Pack! APHA’s 2021 Get Ready Calendar is full of 12 months of colorful photos of critters of all kinds. Every image was selected from more than 100 entries in the Get Ready 2020 photo contest. Each month also includes preparedness tips, so you and your herd can take action to make yourselves healthier and safer in case of emergencies. 

 Download the calendar for free now and share with the whole gang. The calendar is a great resource to find the fun in preparedness, year-round.

Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Holidays during the COVID-19 pandemic

Photo by By monkeybusinessimages,
courtesy iStockphoto
The holiday season is almost here! For many of us, this is our favorite time of year. We look forward to Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanzaa and New Year’s! But with COVID-19, this year’s holiday season is going to look different. By following these practices, you can have a safe and happy holiday.

Celebrating virtually or just with members of your own household is always the lowest risk activity. Hosting in-person activities will have different levels of risk. The safest option is to celebrate with the people you live with and hold virtual celebrations with others.  

If you choose to host or go to an in-person event, consider these factors that increase the risk of spreading COVID-19

1. Community levels of COVID-19: Check the number of COVID-19 cases and community spread in both the event location and in the places where people are traveling from. If any of those has a rise in COVID-19 cases, consider switching to a virtual version.

2. Community guidance: Follow the guidelines set by your city or state.

3. Location: Indoor, in-person events have more risk than outdoor events. If you must be indoors, open windows or doors to let lots of air through.

4. Time: The longer the event is, the more time people have to spread the virus. Keep in-person gatherings short to lower your risk.

5. The number of people: The CDC does not have a limit or recommended number of people you should have in one place together. Their experts suggest that the size of a holiday event should be decided by how well you can limit contact, risk of spread and by any state, local, territorial or tribal health and safety laws.

6. Behaviors of attendees: If anyone in the group has not been practicing physical distancing, hand washing, mask wearing and other important steps to prevent the spread of COVID-19, they put everyone at risk. This is true before and during your event.

If you are hosting family or friends from out of state, plan ahead and clearly communicate your COVID-19 guidelines before they arrive

  • Let your guests know that if COVID-19 rates are on the rise in their communities, they should stay home and celebrate virtually instead.
  • You can ask that people travelling get a COVID-19 test before and quarantine between their test and travel to limit their exposure. 
  • Make sure to have an open conversation with everyone involved about the risks and preventative measures so you can set rules for everyone to follow.

If you or someone you live with has been diagnosed with or exposed to COVID-19, do not host or participate in any in-person celebrations! If you or someone you live with is at high risk for severe illness from COVID-19, avoid in-person events with people outside your home and other large groups. Check the CDC website for more detailed information and guidelines.

Your virtual gathering can still be a celebration! Make it fun and get creative. Get dressed up in the holiday spirit, play games and cook festive food. You can still do Secret Santa over Zoom by planning ahead and mailing or dropping off gifts!

As COVID-19 cases are on the rise again daily, do your part and wear a mask, wash your hands and keep your physical distance of 6 feet! 

Thursday, October 22, 2020

Get Ready is at the Annual Meeting!

We are only two days away from this year’s APHA Annual Meeting & Expo! The APHA 2020 Annual Meeting & Expo will occur virtually on Oct. 24-28. And Get Ready will be there!

Although this year will be different, APHA has created an incredible virtual experience for you through all of the virtual booths, scientific sessions, poster sessions, networking and engagement opportunities and so much more. The best part about this year being virtual is that you get 24/7 online access to sessions and events, all from the comfort of your home! Also, content will be available to view on demand until August 2021, so you don’t have to worry about missing anything. It’s not too late to register

Come check us out at the Get Ready Booth where you can:

  • View our fun welcome video to learn more about Get Ready and what we do!
  • Find links to downloadable fact sheets and infographics about preparing for different disasters
  • Schedule a one-on-one appointment with one of our experts to get your questions answered about Get Ready and emergency preparedness! 

This year has just shown how important it is to be prepared for emergencies. We’re all still fighting through the global COVID-19 pandemic. We must continue to wear our masks, wash our hands and keep physical distance to stay safe. Recent wildfires and hurricanes have caused devastation in communities throughout the U.S. Being prepared is the best way for you and your family to stay safe and healthy during these disasters!

We hope to see you during APHA’s Annual Meeting! Let us know how you’re getting ready by tagging @GetReady on Twitter and using the hashtag #APHA2020!