Experts recommend taking steps to reduce COVID-19 when collecting for the holidays

COLUMBIA, MO. (KMIZ)

Health experts recommend that people use COVID-19 mitigation strategies when gathering with family and friends over the Thanksgiving holiday.

Experts warn the pandemic isn’t over yet and COVID-19 cases are on the rise again in Missouri as cooler weather forces people to do more indoor activities.

While there are currently no health regulations in Mid-Missouri, Sara Humm of the Columbia/Boone County Health Department said vacationers should have a conversation with their guests about what guidelines or mitigation strategies they want to adopt.

Humm said it may be important to check that the people around you are vaccinated before they get together. Vaccination is still the strongest form of defense against serious COVID-19 disease.

Now that the Pfizer vaccine is available for children ages 5 and older, Humm said families now have the opportunity to ensure more members are vaccinated in time for meetings.

While there are no mandates, Humm said health officials recommend people wear masks indoors where they can’t maintain social distancing. Humm suggests spreading out the chairs at the dining table if possible.

Testing for cononavirus is also important before getting together with family. Rapid home antigen tests that can provide results in minutes are available in stores. Humm said that while the home tests are a good option, they are not always reliable and she recommends that people undergo PCR testing for the most accurate results.

Humm said people should try to eat outside and/or do other activities if the weather permits, and wash their hands as much as possible.

Humm said it is difficult to predict whether the number of COVID-19 cases will increase after the holidays, but she said it is more than likely. She said practicing mitigation strategies is the best way to reduce some of the increase in cases.

Boone County reported 441 active COVID-19 cases as of Wednesday, with 20 people in hospital. The COVID-19 numbers were not updated on Thursday and will not be available until next week due to the holiday. New cases have increased by nearly 12% statewide in the past week and 13% in Boone County during the same time, according to the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services.

According to the state health department, nearly 51% of Missouri residents have been fully vaccinated against the coronavirus. About 60% of Americans are fully vaccinated, the Mayo Clinic reports.

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