How to stay safe this holiday season, prevent COVID surge

Virus Outbreak California Daily Life
Posted at 7:55 AM, Dec 20, 2021

CLEVELAND — As COVID cases and hospitalizations ramp up, health experts are looking ahead and focusing on the surge we could see after holiday gatherings, especially with the new variant omicron gaining momentum.

While researchers are still trying to better understand omicron, they say it may be best to be extra cautious this holiday season. They’re urging everyone to get vaccinated and boosted if possible. In addition, get tested before any gatherings with friends and family. As of now, testing demands are rising.

“Hard to predict demand at any given time, but so far we've done a pretty good job of continuously filling orders,” said Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff, director of the Ohio Department of Health. “Testing is a really good strategy for protecting your family, friends, loved ones if you're going to be gathering first of all.”

Vanderhoff says vaccinated people have been “far less likely to spread the virus, at least in its current form.”

Keeping an at-home test on hand may be a good idea too.

Most major pharmacies should have at-home COVID test kits. You can even buy them at stores like Walmart or Amazon. Keep in mind though, these tests are less accurate than standard COVID tests. So, you're more likely to get a false positive or negative.

If you do test positive, get a PCR test immediately to confirm. For those who are symptomatic or had high exposure, experts say do the same even if your at-home test comes up negative.

“I think it is a really good idea to think about in the 24 to 48 hours before going and getting an outpatient test just to make sure that, hey, there's no indication that I am infected with COVID 19,” said Dr. Vanderhoff.

We're told masks and social distancing should remain a priority and that it's best to avoid any large crowds regardless of vaccination. Vanderhoff says to be mindful of any respiratory illness symptoms or if you're not feeling good at all.