COVID-19 Queries: How to not be an A**hole

Recommendations by yours truly taken from the Center For Disease Control

Raina Carfaro, Scarlet Staff

As vaccines are rolling out along with the rumors of a second strain and outbreak, people have been wondering what is acceptable social behavior and safety practices in the ever-changing landscape of the global pandemic, especially in the United States.

But do not fear! Here is a go-to guide for the chaos. Figure out what you are allowed to do and how to protect yourself and others as recommended by the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and the Massachusetts state government this month. Firstly, please continue to wear a mask in public and when in close contact with others! The CDC recommends double masking, with a disposable mask underneath a mask of triple layered cloth. When double masking exposure to viral particles is reduced by upwards of 95 percent, more than double as efficient as the 42 to 44 percent efficiency the CDC saw from single surgical masks and single cloth masks. This efficiency can also be attained by wearing a single KN95 mask. 

Vaccines!!!: If you have been vaccinated, great! You are considered fully vaccinated two weeks after your second Modern or Pfizer dose or two weeks after your Johnson & Johnson single shot dose. You are not fully protected until two weeks after your final dose and are still vulnerable! Get vaccinated when you can! We know COVID-19 vaccines are effective at preventing infection, and we are still learning how well COVID-19 vaccines keep people from spreading the disease or how effective they are against variant strains of COVID-19.

For Non-Clark Residents: Clark has different regulations than Massachusetts, and the university should be your primary directive while living on campus or taking in person classes. One great thing about being vaccinated means that you have new liberties. You can gather indoors with fully vaccinated people without wearing a mask, or gather indoors with unvaccinated people from one other household without masks, unless any of those people or anyone they live with is high risk.

But even if you have been vaccinated you are not exempt from all COVID-19 restrictions. Remember, we are all still learning how the vaccines work and information may change as the CDC and researchers learn more. Currently we know that even when vaccinated you could still be a carrier and endanger others! Wear a mask in public and avoid medium to large gatherings, though it is best to avoid all social gatherings entirely if you are unmasked.

Regarding reopening, Massachusetts is currently in Phase 3, Part II, which allows business and activities to resume at semi-normal capacities than previously allowed in the midst of the pandemic. However, these activities are limited and socialization is highly discouraged. While the state government allows up to 10 people indoors and twenty five people outdoors for gatherings, while on or off Clark’s campus, please maintain social distancing guidelines and wear your mask at all times with non-household members. That includes your friends, it doesn’t matter if “you only see each other.”

Pods are Not a Surefire Safe Idea: They have been proven to fail at containing an infection outbreak as intended and pod group numbers tend to expand beyond a safe limit, especially on a college campus. We have a responsibility to each other and the Worcester community, which we are lucky to be a part of, to be safe and constantly vigilant.

Avoid Large Crowds: Being in crowds like in restaurants, bars, fitness centers, or movie theaters puts you at higher risk for COVID-19. If you have to be in a poorly ventilated space, open windows or doors to maximize airflow.

In short, double mask, and only unmask around housemates. Follow Clark University’s rules and policies while being on campus, even though Clark’s regulations may be different than Massachusetts’ laws. Do not go to bars and get vaccinated. Once you are vaccinated, stay vigilant! Finally, get tested, wash your hands, and don’t be an a**hole.