HOUSTON – Less than a week away from Thanksgiving and once again, it will be a holiday with the ever-looming pandemic on many people’s brains.
However, leading medical professionals at Baylor College of Medicine said this year, it doesn’t have to necessarily be so stressful and strict, depending on the circumstances.
Baylor College of Medicine has updated its existing online guide to help people prepare for their holidays. They hope people gather in a safe way.
“I think there are really two big mistakes we could make over this holiday,” said Dr. James McDeavitt, Baylor College of Medicine’s Executive Vice President and Dean of Clinical Affairs. “One would be to be overly confident and say that this is behind us and sort of ignore all precautions because we still have plenty of COVID-19 out there, and in many parts of the country they are still surging back. I think the other mistake we could make would be to pretend like it was a year ago and we’re all hunkered down in our houses and went into seclusion and didn’t celebrate the holidays and didn’t get together with family and friends.”
Baylor College of Medicine has worked to update their “Build Your Own Holiday Bubble” online guide to help people decide just exactly how cautious they should be.
McDeavitt said the guide is meant to be a helpful tool with step-by-step guidelines for different levels of risk. One of the risk factors to take into account is the level of risk of the people you will be celebrating with.
“If you’re celebrating with a bunch of perfectly healthy 25-year-olds, you’re probably pretty safe and you don’t have to take a lot of precaution. But the reality is, that’s not the holidays for most of us. We are getting together with people that have conditions that place them at risk, the elderly, etc,” McDevitt said.
The guide also provides a tentative timeline to help you learn when to take action before any big holiday.
“Assess your personal risk and assess the risk of your community,” McDeavitt said.
Assessing the risk of your community is the second major consideration.
“Look at the disease prevalence in the community where you’re celebrating and where people are coming from. Houston, right now, is in decent shape. Our numbers are coming down and they have appeared to have leveled off and stay that way for a while now,” McDeavitt said. “But there are other parts of the country (like) Detroit, Michigan for example, the rate is six or seven times what they are in Houston right now. So, understanding how common the disease is in your community is really important because it tells you the likelihood of the person in the restaurant next to you, the likelihood they have COVID-19.”
He suggested that people get the flu shot and vaccine before the holidays as a precaution because people will still get some immunity (though they would not be fully immunized until two weeks after the second COVID vaccines dose). He also suggested that people make plans and have these conversations about the holidays early.
“I hope everybody has a happy holiday because we really do need to get together,” McDeavitt said. “I just hope we do it in a safe way.”