Why are the Holidays so significant for COVID-19?
First – case numbers in the United States reached their all-time high last December and January. While things aren’t likely to be as bad this year, all signs are pointing to this being one of the highest points in case volume for all of 2021.
There are several different factors that contribute to this:
- The holidays are the biggest travel season of the year.
- Travel increases exposure to people and time spent in confined areas.
- Cold temperatures force people indoors where risk for exposure and spread is higher
- Daylight hours are lower for most of the country (UV rays kill COVID)
- Respiratory viruses in general spread more during winter months
So what can you do to reduce your risk?
If you can – get vaccinated.
Small children, the immunocompromised, and those with serious health conditions where vaccination is not recommended are at extreme risk to contract and spread COVID-19. It’s our duty to protect them! Even as more and more treatment options for COVID become available, thousands of people are dying from COVID-19. Do your part to keep yourself and those around you safe.
We know there are plenty of people who will have to travel for the holidays despite being unable to get vaccinated – luckily the CDC has created guidelines for you as well:
Get tested within 3 days of your trip – preferably the same or day before your departure. As a general rule AND for vaccinated people – DON’T TRAVEL IF:
- You’ve been exposed.
- You are sick.
- You have not had adequate time to isolate after a positive.
- You are still waiting for the results of your COVID test.
Celebrate outdoors – wear masks indoors.
The pandemic has been raging for almost two years now – we know that wearing masks indoors around your loved ones is far from ideal, but it remains one of the best ways to mitigate risk and prevent transmission. At the very least – something as simple as opening a window can significantly reduce the risk of transmission and help keep people safe.
The best solution is almost always the simplest one though - if you live in a favorable climate – celebrate outdoors! The risk of outdoor transmission is commonly said to be 10%, but studies have come out that seem to estimate it much closer to 1%.
Practice travel safety
Social distancing, frequent handwashing, and limiting contact with frequently touched surfaces are still all good means of mitigating risk and traveling safer. Airports and planes have some of the most exposure to large groups of people possible, so taking all of the small precautions you can will add up when it comes to your health and safety.
And finally - when in doubt, get tested.
We proudly offer COVID testing to Pittsburgh and travelers passing through our city so we’re a little biased, but the CDC, WHO, and countless other organizations agree. Getting tested when you’ve been exposed or are sick is hands down the most effective way to prevent further spread short of staying home this holiday season.