Lionhearted: Uh O! Omicron | Uplift Family Services

Lion mother with cub in banner for Lionhearted

Volume 7 • Issue 1 • January 2022

Uplift Family Services is a trauma-informed agency, providing whole person care through resilience-oriented, data-driven, culturally sensitive services. We believe in the power of staff investment, advocacy and collaboration as we partner with individuals, families, and communities to heal from the widespread impact of trauma.

A person can be infected with the COVID-19 virus, yet have no symptoms. But did you know that a person can have symptoms without being infected?  Consider the following.

COVID Fatigue

Also known as being “Sick and Tired of This Stupid Virus,” COVID Fatigue has affected an estimated 100% of the population. Personal disclosure: I have not tested positive, yet I’ve had COVID Fatigue for months.

Pronunciation Variants

Ο is omicron, the 15th letter of the Greek alphabet. It is neither Omnicron (a character in the game Nexomon) nor Omnichron (a World of Warcraft Character and a band from Wales).  Acceptable pronunciations include OH-muh-kraan and AH-muh-kraan.

COVID Confusion

Omicron is highly contagious, so why have isolation and quarantine been shortened? It’s less dangerous, yet schools shutting down and ICUs are filling up. If vaccines work, why are breakthrough infections common? And if testing is so useful, why aren’t more tests available? What a mess. If only we knew the salient facts…

The Salient Facts

Good news: Omicron appears to be less dangerous overall, with some groups remaining at high risk. And remember, we still have much to learn about long-term effects.

Bad news: Because Omicron is so contagious, the sheer number of infections has meant very high rates of quarantine & isolation (so businesses are short-staffed), hospitalization, and death.

Good news: Vaccines and boosters still offer big-time protection against severe symptoms and death. National and international studies consistently show a much higher risk of hospitalization and death among unvaccinated people. If you are not vaccinated, it’s not too late.

Good news: The Omicron wave is likely to crest by the end of January.  Even with our fatigue, surely we can be super-safe for another month or two!  Mask up, distance, and wash your hands.  By now, it’s muscle memory.

Good news: In an effort to minimize staffing shortages, California now allows just five days of isolation and quarantine under certain conditions (including a negative test). This is feasible because the virus is most contagious during the first few days of infection. HR is also implementing a state mandate for booster shots for healthcare workers.

Direct Service at Uplift

In late 2021, Uplift was providing a lot of in-person services. Now, to assure staff and customer safety, we must adapt to new circumstances.

During the Omicron wave, I encourage all staff to be extra-thoughtful in weighing the risks and benefits of in-person vs. remote contact with both one another and customers. When a customer needs in-person services to be safe, feel supported, and make gains, please consider whether a combination of in-person and remote services work.  If you have a CFT meeting, can some people attend in person while others call in?  And during in-person sessions, make sure to mask, keep your distance, and meet in a well ventilated room.

Surf’s Up, Dude

Colleagues and customers have taught me this: the bigger the challenge, the more important it is to be strength-based. When the waves swell, we surf.

Dig deep. Reach out, hang loose, and hang on.

AUTHOR: MARK EDELSTEIN, MD; EDITOR: ELIKA BECKWITH