Alaska health officials share recommendations for second holiday season with COVID-19

A small group of friends gather around a fire at a house in Anchorage in the winter of 2020. (Lex Trains/Alaska Public Media)

It’s the second holiday season of the COVID-19 pandemic, but this year has one big difference from 2020, if you ask the state’s top doctors.

“We compared a vaccine this year with last year, but we didn’t have that. And it’s really a big game changer,” said Chief Medical Officer Dr. Anne Zink to reporters during a media appeal last week. She said the vaccine has eased vacation planning by allowing families to get together more safely.

dr. Zink recommends over-the-counter COVID testing if someone in your holiday gathering is immunocompromised, or if a large crowd of people will be attending. She said her family was skeptical at first about how easy they would be to use, but now they are converts.

However, she said she won’t be at their house for Thanksgiving this year.

“My Thanksgiving won’t be as much fun as others probably. I’m going to work in the emergency room, in part because my co-workers really get a chance to work together and be with their families, which they couldn’t have been. And so I cover them so they can get together with their families,” she said.

The state health department recommends avoiding crowded indoor areas, wearing a mask around anyone with a weakened immune system, and staying home if you’re sick.

The state’s COVID-19 dashboard will not be updated during the holidays. As of December 6, the state will return to COVID-19 reporting only three days a week.

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