For the third year in a row, many people are considering the holidays with COVID-19 in mind. And this year, we may also be thinking of the flu and respiratory syncytial virus, known as RSV, as cases of both of these viral infections rise across the nation.
“As hospitals rebound from the pandemic, many of them are still facing staffing challenges,” said Tori Smith, DO, of Samaritan Lincoln City Medical Center. “Though many of us may be looking forward to the kind of holiday season we enjoyed in 2019, before the pandemic, it would still be good to think things through.”
A good rule of thumb is to plan around the highest-risk person in your group. How a group gathers might look different with older relatives or those with risk factors for severe disease than for a group of young adults in which no one is immunocompromised.
Health experts advise a “mini-quarantine” for a week before gathering with groups for the holidays. This means minimizing in-person interactions with people from outside your household and wearing a face mask in any setting where you will encounter a large group.
Before heading to the holiday dinner, or to the airport, do a rapid COVID-19 test. If you test negative for coronavirus and have no symptoms of a cold, the flu or RSV, you’re good to go. If you feel sick, stay home.
“I know it can be hard to miss out on a family gathering,” said Dr. Smith. “While an illness might be mild for you, it could be very serious for an older adult, young child or a person who is immunocompromised.”
And wear a face mask in crowded places and on public transportation.
“I advise masking up,” Dr. Smith said. “Even if you are the only one, it still provides decent protection.”
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