As we’re entering the holiday season, health officials are encouraging the public to consider extra precautions — especially if you will be around immunocompromised or vulnerable loved ones.
“We do recommend masking if you’re going to be in closed indoor spaces, masking if you’re unvaccianted but masking also if you’re going to be around people who are immunocompromised,” said Dr. Jennifer Chevinsky, Deputy Public Health Officer, RivCo Dept. of Public Health.
Health experts say you should still consider making slight adjustments at your gatherings to reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19.
“Anything we can do to have gatherings outdoors, try to maintain some degree of social distancing, good ventilation and so on,” said Dr. Alan Williamson, Chief Medical Officer at Eisenhower Health.
While masking, social distancing, hand washing are all good practices, officials say the best thing you can do is make sure everyone in your family is up to date on their vaccines.
“Hands down the best protection we can possibly have is vaccine and if appropriate, boosters,” said Dr. Williamson.
With breakthrough cases possible in the community, you might consider also getting tested if you’re going to be around vulnerable people.
Officials are also reminding people that the most accurate test out there right now, is a standard PCR done by a professional.
You might see rapid antigen tests available for purchase at local pharmacies. They are self swab tests that provide a result in about 10 minutes. Dr. Williamson explains these aren’t always the most accurate.
“The quality of the results are very dependent on the way the sampling is done. And so expecting people at home to do a proper nasal swab to get the best quality specimen to test...it’s a big challenge,” he said.
Dr. Jennifer Chevinsky added these at-home rapid tests can result in false negatives.
“Cases where people are early on in their infection, where they may not yet have symptoms, where they don’t have a lot of virus in their body...the antigen test or home test might miss those cases,” she said.
Information to keep in mind with the holidays just around the corner: “We want people to have that sense of closeness, we just hope people can do it in a safe way,” she said.