Health leaders urging people to stay home for the holidays

Published: Dec. 22, 2020 at 10:49 AM CST
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - Traveling for the holiday season is a tradition for many families, but once again health experts are warning against it.

Dr. Mark Rupp says the COVID transmission rate is still high across the country, and there are very few places where it’s safe.

Still, many will travel. So if you do plan to gather with family and friends over the next 2 weeks, doctors have some strong suggestions.

Most importantly, you should stay home if you or someone you’ve been in close contact with has tested positive for COVID-19, or if you or someone in your home is showing symptoms.

When you do gather with others, wear a mask at all times except for when you’re eating and drinking. Stay socially distanced, and remember good hand hygiene.

Dr. Rupp, an infectious disease expert at UNMC, says you can get tested before you leave town or gather with others, but it’s important to be cautious.

“That would be some reassurance that you’re not shedding at that time, but that’s just a snapshot in time. So it doesn’t guarantee that 2 or 3 days later you’re not shedding the virus and being potentially infectious,” he said.

You can get tested when you come home, but again, it’s important to be careful. Dr. Rupp says the typical incubation period for COVID-19 is 5 to 7 days.

“And if you test negative at that point it’s not a get out of jail free card, you’re not out of the woods, but it’s certainly reassuring at that point.”

The CDC says if you do not get tested, it’s safest to stay home for at least 10 days.

We are seeing vaccines start to roll out across the metro and the country, but they still won’t be available to the general public for a few months.

Until then, Dr. Rupp says it’s up to us to slow the spread.

“We gotta knuckle down and do what’s necessary over the next few months until we can get the vaccine into the community,” he said. “That’s really the way we dig ourselves out of the hole we’re in.”

Dr. Rupp reminds people that these safety measures are not forever. In fact, he said he’s optimistic that by next year’s holiday season, we’ll be in a much better place.

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