How to level up against omicron and stay out of hospital

The omicron variant is pummeling Washington state and has also brought an influx of patients to hospitals nationwide. UW Medicine hospitals have reached a record high of 188 COVID patients as of today, Jan. 13.

Also spreading is renewed confusion over best masking tactics to combat omicron. Dr. John Lynch, medical director of infection prevention and control at Harborview Medical Center, says enhancing your current masking practices is a great first move.

“The basic message, I would say, is level up,” said Lynch. “Get a mask that fits well that also has that good multi-layer filtration to protect all of us, because again, you just don't know what you're going to face when you're out of your household.”

Watch a demonstration video to ensure your mask fits correctly.

UW Medicine is currently prioritizing testing at its nine locations for people who have symptoms of a respiratory illness or who have a known exposure to COVID-19. High demand across the region can still make a timely appointment hard to come by.

“Right now, if you can't get access to testing and you have cold or flu-like symptoms, I would make the assumption you have COVID-19 and act accordingly,” said Lynch. “Until you get that test, act as if you have COVID: isolate at home, make sure your household members, your family and everyone knows how you're feeling so that they can also think about how to behave outside of the household as well.”

Checklist: When you should get tested for COVID-19

UW Medicine