Health Officials Warn About Covid and RSV Over the Holidays

As we head into the holiday season, healthcare systems across the Bay Area are facing an increase in COVID infections, as well as high levels of influenza (flu) and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV).

In order to keep the community healthy and reduce the burden on healthcare systems, 12 Bay Area health officials have released a set of recommendations to help prevent the spread of these viruses.

The most important step is to get vaccinated against both COVID and the flu. A new updated Omicron COVID booster, known as the bivalent booster, has been released and is available for everyone six months and older.

This booster targets the Omicron variant, as well as the original 2020 virus, and is the best protection against severe symptoms of COVID and hospitalization. Vaccination rates in the region were high earlier in the pandemic, but have since declined.

It’s important that everyone who is eligible gets vaccinated to rebuild the protection offered by the vaccine. Additionally, it’s important to get a flu shot, as flu can lead to sudden, severe illness in vulnerable populations, such as the very young, seniors, and those with underlying medical conditions.

The second recommendation is to stay home if you are sick. This is especially important for those with COVID, as it is the best way to reduce the spread of the virus. If you think you might have COVID, it’s important to get tested. People who need urgent or emergency medical care, including testing or treatment for influenza or COVID, should seek it.

It’s also important to wear a mask in indoor public places. Masks can prevent the transmission of multiple viruses and wearing a high-quality mask, such as a KN94, KN95 or N95, is strongly recommended indoors in public settings.

Additionally, improving ventilation indoors by turning on HVAC systems, filtering the air with a portable HEPA filter, pointing fans out open windows, or opening doors and windows when possible can all help reduce the spread of viruses.

Finally, it’s important to get tested before an indoor gathering or if you feel sick. This can reduce the chances of infecting someone else with COVID. If you do test positive, free treatments are available and work best when started right after symptoms begin.

The health officers from the counties of Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, Monterey, Napa, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz, San Francisco, San Mateo, Solano, Sonoma, and the city of Berkeley are asking everyone to take these easy steps to help protect themselves and others from missing out on holiday moments and to ease the burden on local health systems.

These steps, such as getting vaccinated, staying home if you are sick, wearing a mask in indoor public places, and getting tested before an indoor gathering, are essential for keeping the community safe and healthy this holiday season.

Thomas Smith

Thomas Smith is a food and travel photographer and writer based in the San Francisco Bay Area. His photographic work routinely appears in publications including Food and Wine, Conde Nast Traveler, and the New York Times and his writing appears in IEEE Spectrum, SFGate, the Bold Italic and more. Smith holds a degree in Cognitive Science (Neuroscience) and Anthropology from the Johns Hopkins University.

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Back to top button
%d bloggers like this: