Medical experts weigh in on COVID during holiday gatherings


As families are making plans for Thanksgiving gatherings, local medical experts have some advice about how community members can avoid another surge in COVID cases.

Here is more on those recommendations.

Medical experts recommend that family members who are showing symptoms for COVID-19 should not attend gatherings.

Gathering with people who are unvaccinated could also cause another surge in cases.

With the most recent surge in COVID cases, medical experts are recommending that families consider who they choose to gather with.

While vaccinated people may be more protected from the virus, experts still recommend that people stay home on Thanksgiving if they feel sick.

“If someone is symptomatic, they need to stay home because we don’t want to potentially expose individuals to any type of respiratory illness right now. As we come into flu season we have RSV circulating and we obviously have lots of COVID,” said Emily Shears, Epidemiologist at UPMC Hamot.

The county reported 205 new cases of COVID-19 on November 16th. Shears said that more COVID cases after Thanksgiving would put a strain on local hospitals.

“A lot of COVID patients coming in right now. We have again about half of what we did last year, but again it is a stretch on resources. We have a lot of other reasons people need to seek hospital care,” said Shears.

One medical expert said that Thanksgiving gatherings among unvaccinated individuals will likely cause another surge in COVID cases and hospitalizations.

“We are currently seeing a high rate of spread among unvaccinated. It’s higher than it was in December, so the risk of bringing in COVID and spreading it among family members is fairly high,” said Dr. Howard Nadworny, MD, Infectious Disease Physician.

Dr. Nadworny said that there is a big difference for those who are unvaccinated, adding that they run the risk of contracting and spreading COVID among families.

“If you are vaccinated and all of your family is vaccinated then having Thanksgiving is going to be very safe,” said Dr. Nadworny.

Experts recommend that children who are not eligible for a vaccine along with those who are not vaccinated should receive a negative COVID test before attending Thanksgiving gatherings.

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