It’s that time of year, time for friends and families to gather to celebrate the holidays and wish one another a happy New Year. It’s also that time of year that respiratory illnesses can run rampant, helped along by these gatherings. This year, COVID is still a prominent entity, and it’s aided by an outbreak of RSV and the seasonal flu, creating a bit of a triple threat when it comes to keeping loved ones safe and healthy this year. However, there are still ways to celebrate the holidays safely, healthily, and happily. You’re watching the “Local News Network”, brought to you by the law firms of Downs, McDonough, Cowan, and Foley, and Serious Texas Bar-B-Q. I’m Wendy Graham Settle.
We’ve always seen RSV and flu. Those are, those have long since been established in our populations, and they typically are more prominent in the fall and winter months. We are seeing more this year than we have in the last couple of years and I think there’s a number of reasons for that.
There are a number of different reasons for the uptick in cases. For one, two years ago, during the height of the COVID Pandemic, there were lots of precautions in place with masking social distancing and more people staying at home.
For the last couple years, again, we’ve been masking, we’ve been social distancing, we’ve been doing all these things for COVID, and so we haven’t been seeing the viruses or our immune systems haven’t been seeing the viruses like we’re used to, so our immunity’s down, and so therefore that the viruses are hitting us a lot harder.
Particularly vulnerable are children, older adults, and people with preexisting conditions. RSV, a respiratory illness that predominantly affects children, is at an all-time high. This year’s strain of fluids showing signs of being in a particularly strong strain and there has been an uptick in COVID cases over the last month across the country. All three diseases spread best through close contact, the flu and COVID often through airborne droplets, and RSV through contamination from hands touching your face or mouth after touching someone with RSV.
If you’re sick, stay home. When people come in and we diagnose ’em with the flu, we really emphasize, we maybe don’t emphasize the stay home for 10 days in quarantine like we were doing with COVID, but along the same lines, it’s like, Hey don’t go visit grandma. Don’t go to the school Christmas parties. Don’t go to church this weekend. Don’t go to Walmart when you leave here. Like really stay home and keep it to yourself.
With all the activities and holiday gatherings this time of year, it might be hard to stay home and miss out on the fun, or keep to yourself when you need to grab some groceries or last minute gifts, but staying home really is one of the best ways to prevent the spread of any of these illnesses.
Other than that, it’s all of the things that we’ve been talking about, you know, since we were little kids and especially over the last two and a half years. Wash your hands thoroughly, you know, 20 seconds at least. If you don’t have access to hand washing, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer. Avoid touching your face. All of us should cover our mouth when we’re coughing or sneezing and encourage our kids to do the same.
As we head into the holiday season and plan to go visit friends and family or host family or parties in our homes, some of the best ways to protect yourself and your family are to ensure you are up to date on your latest COVID vaccine booster and flu shot. If you’re feeling sick, stay home and don’t go out. And if you have to wear a mask. Take advantage of testing services either at home or at a testing site. The more you can do to prevent the spread of disease, the more it will help medical care providers, hospitals, and urgent care facilities from becoming overwhelmed and unable to provide the best level of care for their patients. Find vaccination clinics and information for La Plata County at San Juan Basin Public Health at sjbpublichealth dot org. Learn more about COVID vaccines, RSV, and the seasonal flu at cdc dot gov. Stay safe this holiday season and thank you for watching this edition of “The Local News Network”. I’m Wendy Graham Settle.