PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Healthcare experts are urging people to rethink their holiday plans after many Oregonians opted to travel for Thanksgiving.
The full impact of the Thanksgiving holiday on case numbers remains to be seen due to a lag between when people catch the virus and when they display symptoms. But the past several months have shown spikes in COVID-19 tallies after every holiday.
So doctors with the Oregon Health Authority held a Facebook live session on Thursday to talk about reshaping Christmas plans with the goal of keeping people safe.
“What would you say to someone who’s kind of on the fence like thinking, ‘well is it really that big a deal if I go visit my family?’ said Dr. Bukhosi Dube, senior health advisor on the COVID response for OHA. “It is a big deal to go, to step outside our bubbles and visit other people even if they are families, we want to protect those that we love. Look at it as you’re doing this as a sacrifice for those that you love.”
Social gatherings continue to drive the spread of the coronavirus so healthcare experts are asking people to avoid traveling, celebrate only with other members of their household and limit gatherings to six people or less.
Dr. Dean Sidelinger, the health officer and state epidemiologist for the Oregon Public Health Division, explained why following OHA recommendations is crucial.
“At that one instance, you may be getting together with six people from two different households but who have those friends and family been with in the time before your visit?” he said. “How likely is it that they may have been exposed to COVID and don’t have symptoms yet but are sick and could give it to you?”
Taking a coronavirus test isn’t a foolproof safety measure. Doctors say there’s still about a 30% chance a person who tests negative could have the virus.
If traveling is unavoidable, health authorities ask people to self-quarantine for 14 days upon their return home.
“Let’s do the right think now so that we can be protected and not spread the virus and ensure that next year we’ll have a better and happier Christmas, Kwanza, Hanukkah, holiday,” said Dr. Dube.