COVID-19 Cases Are High In Michigan. What Does This Mean For The Holidays?

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Within the past several weeks, cases of COVID-19 have skyrocketed in Michigan. Hospital beds are filled with COVID-19 patients—and the majority are unvaccinated. 

“The Delta variant, along with the fact that people are inside more often now, could account for part of the reason why cases have increased,” says Jennifer Burgess, D.O., a primary care physician with Henry Ford Health. “Also, we haven’t hit that golden vaccination rate in Michigan—more people need to get vaccinated for cases to decrease.”

Experts are also concerned about the Omicron variant, which was first detected in South Africa but is already in the United States. It might be more contagious than the original strain of COVID-19, but knowing exactly how it differs from the original strain of COVID-19 will take time. 

If you aren’t vaccinated and you are eligible, it is important that you get vaccinated—for your health and for the health of the community—and especially before holiday gatherings and events. If you are eligible to receive a booster shot, you should do so as soon as possible, as it takes two weeks after getting boosted to be fully protected.

Navigating This Holiday Season Amid COVID-19

The Omicron variant and high cases of COVID-19 in Michigan could throw a wrench in holiday plans. So what to do? “It’s very confusing,” says Dr. Burgess. “Knowing what to do is as clear as mud. The recommendations are constantly changing, based upon what’s happening with COVID-19.”

As a rule of thumb, weigh the risks and benefits before agreeing to a holiday gathering or event, Dr. Burgess says. Any outdoor activity will be safer than any indoor activity. (Sledding, cutting down a Christmas tree and viewing outdoor light displays are much safer than indoor gatherings or holiday shopping at the mall, for example.) Your vaccination status can also factor into how safe an activity is: 

  • If everyone in your family is fully vaccinated, and the adults are boosted, it’s likely that you can celebrate the holidays together with little risk.
  • If everyone in your family is fully vaccinated except children younger than 5 years old, you can feel fairly confident about having a safe gathering. “If everyone around your children is fully vaccinated and otherwise practicing safe protocols (wearing masks and social distancing in public), it is likely that you will be safe,” says Dr. Burgess.
  • If everyone—or many people—in your family aren’t vaccinated, any indoor holiday gathering will be a high-risk activity and is best avoided until you are all vaccinated.

Exposure To COVID-19 When You’re Vaccinated

Regardless of your vaccination status, it’s still a good idea to agree to social interactions cautiously and be aware of how you’re feeling. Although those who are fully vaccinated are less likely to contract COVID-19 than those who aren’t vaccinated, it is still possible, and they may experience no symptoms or a wide array of symptoms. If you experience any symptoms, you should get tested for COVID-19.

Even if you are fully vaccinated, you should get tested five to seven days after being in close contact with someone who has COVID-19, says the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Close contact means being less than 6 feet away from the infected person for 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period. You should also wear a mask indoors in public for 14 days after exposure, or until you receive a negative test result.

Traveling During The Holiday Season

And if you’ll be traveling this holiday season? Flying is also a risk, Dr. Burgess says, but fortunately airlines are implementing masking rules, and luckily we’ve learned that ventilation, filtration and air quality on airplanes is effective. “That said, if you’re symptomatic at all you should not be flying,” says Dr. Burgess. “Be sure to get travel insurance. In the airport and on the flight, wear your mask covering your nose and mouth at all times. Keep an eye on the latest recommendations from the CDC. Just be aware and cautious, to protect yourself and those around you this holiday season.”

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For answers to common questions about COVID-19 vaccines or to make an appointment, visit henryford.com/coronavirus/vaccine-faqs.

Dr. Jennifer Burgess is a family medicine doctor who sees patients at Henry Ford Medical Center in Commerce Township and West Bloomfield.

Categories: FeelWell