Don't let down your guard

Austin Widger, Ojai Valley News reporter

“Don’t share your air!” is the message from three California health systems leaders, imploring all Californians to take stringent precautions against spreading COVID-19 during the holiday season. 

“We need to keep the people that you want to spend time with … healthy and alive,” said Ventura County Public Health Officer Dr. Levin.

In counties under the regional Stay Home Order — such as Ventura County and more than 90 percent of the state — any type of gathering beyond one’s immediate household is prohibited. Ventura County residents are advised not to travel or gather with other households since the county is under a regional Stay Home Order.

According to Levin: “Staying home should be the default for all questions that arise. ‘Should I do that?’ Or ‘Should I do this?’ The standard should be: ‘Is it as safe as staying home with just my household?’ ”

Travel increases one’s chance of getting and spreading the virus. People arriving in California from other states or countries, including returning California residents, should practice self-quarantine for 10 days after arrival. They should limit their interactions to their immediate household.

A video featuring frontline workers across the three hospital systems was shown at a Dec. 22 state Department of Public Health press conference to highlight what they’ve been experiencing during the pandemic and how the surge is impacting the care they provide. 

Hospital leaders stressed that while hope is on the horizon in the form of COVID-19 vaccines, no one can let down their guard, and everyone has a role to play in stopping the spread. 

They urged the public to keep doing the things that work and save lives — wear a mask, wash your hands frequently, avoid gatherings, and keep your distance from others. 

To lower the chances of catching or spreading the virus, the recommendations include: 

— Keep it covered: Cover your nose and mouth. And if you can’t stay covered, back away from others. 

— Keep it moving: If you gather, aim for outside. If you’re inside, take every precaution. Open windows, turn on fans, and use air purifiers as much as possible. Fresh air movement helps dilute the airborne virus. 

— Keep it short: Keep your time with others short and your distance long for in-person interactions. 

California Department of Public Health officials also recommend having “the COVID chat” with loved ones for the holidays:


    • Be clear: Say “no” to anything that could increase risk for you or the people you care about.

    • Offer alternatives: Ask if there’s another way to connect with family. Acknowledge you want to see them and find a different way to share the experience.

    • Drop off holiday meals for older loved ones and those with medical conditions, so they can stay home.

    • Plan safe celebrations well in advance, then stick to the plan.

Be honest: Remind people that you care about them and need to take precautions this year for everyone’s health.


    • Plan celebrations with multiple households.

    • Make someone feel guilty for not wanting to gather in person.

    • Ridicule someone for wanting to take precautions.

    • Feel pressured to take risks you’re not comfortable with.

    • Forget to be compassionate, even when turning down an invitation.

    • Miss connecting by phone or virtually with isolated or quarantined loved ones.


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