Health officials believe there’s no way viruses won’t spread during Thanksgiving, but it’s important we limit how much.
“There’s definitely concern for spread,” said Dr. Laura Arline, Chief Quality Officer for BayCare Medical Group.
With COVID-19, RSV, and the flu going around, doctors predict we’ll see a spike in all of them, as well as the common cold.
“I would almost bet on it. I’m not a betting person, but for this, I mean, I would bet on it. We’re already seeing numbers go up, and people aren’t gathering yet,” Arline said.
Experts believe a lot of this is happening because people are no longer protecting themselves with things like masks.
“There are other viruses out there that do cause similar symptoms that are kind of rebounding now after a couple of years of us not having them around,” said Dr. Michael Teng, Virologist and USF Health Associate Professor.
One of the biggest concerns this season that’s different from past pandemic-era holidays is the recent record-setting rise in RSV cases.
“All the pediatric ICUs, they’re getting filled up really quickly,” Teng said.
Arline said most people aren’t aware that RSV is not just a “kid’s thing.”
“Kids can certainly get very sick with it, but they can also spread it to adults,” she said. “In adults, it often can look like a cold, but in our older adults and our adults that have immune compromised, it really can be pretty devastating.”
Health officials are urging people to take a few precautions this Thanksgiving:
- If you or anyone in your family is getting sick, stay home
- Consider having your gathering outside
- Use hand sanitizer before touching shared utensils
- Start quarantining a few days before Thanksgiving
“If you’re able to work from home, try doing that. Try going to the stores when they may be less busy or even wearing a mask when you go out in public just so that you’re less likely to get something,” Arline said.
Also important this year, doctors said people should take a COVID-19 test, preferably on Thanksgiving morning.
“If you do go to a holiday gathering, one of the things that could help is testing as close to when you would be leaving for that gathering as possible,” Arline said.
Teng said we must remember some of our older family members who may not have as good immune systems.
“It’s really important to protect them as well,” he said.