With Thanksgiving approaching and the holiday season in full swing, many Americans are making travel plans and preparations for gatherings. However, amidst the excitement, it’s crucial to remain vigilant about protecting your health, as seasonal viruses continue to circulate.
The flu is on the rise in various parts of the country, particularly in the South and the West, according to data from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Additionally, COVID-19 and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) are still spreading, making it important to take precautions.
Dr. Peter Chin-Hong, an infectious disease specialist at the University of California, San Francisco, emphasizes that travelers will encounter various risks, given the increased holiday travel and interactions with individuals from different regions.
Here are key strategies to safeguard your health during the holiday season:
- Mask Up: Continue to wear masks in crowded or enclosed spaces, such as airports and public transportation. Masks help prevent the spread of diseases, including the common cold.
- Ventilation Matters: In areas with limited airflow, such as airport jet bridges, wearing a mask is essential. Even in well-ventilated spaces, masks provide added protection from potential exposure to respiratory droplets.
- Avoid Crowded Settings: When gathering with friends and family, opt for less crowded venues. Choosing locations with good airflow can reduce your risk.
- Hand Hygiene: Regularly wash your hands with soap and water, or use hand sanitizer containing at least 60% alcohol if handwashing facilities are unavailable.
- Hands Off: Avoid touching your face, especially your eyes, nose, and mouth, as this can transfer germs from contaminated surfaces.
While completely avoiding travel is the safest option, it’s not always feasible. Approximately 55 million people are expected to travel during the Thanksgiving holiday period, and nearly 3 million are anticipated to pass through airports on the Sunday after Thanksgiving alone.
By adhering to these precautions, you can help protect yourself and your loved ones from respiratory viruses and enjoy a safer and healthier holiday season.