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December 17, 2021 12:28 PM

Guidance for Celebrating the Holidays Safely

(December 17, 2021) – The holidays are here and with travel to and from San Miguel County expected to reach peak numbers over the next two weeks, Public Health encourages residents and visitors alike to celebrate safely.

The State of Colorado continues to feel the effects of the most recent COVID-19 wave as hospitals continue to be overwhelmed and the omicron variant begins to spread throughout the country. Emphasizing the importance of boosters, Governor Jared Polis stated in a recent press conference that early data has demonstrated three vaccination doses are necessary for protection against omicron.

Learning from last year’s holiday season, which led to the county’s greatest spike in COVID cases of the pandemic, precautionary measures to supplement vaccines and boosters are imperative to reducing seasonal transmission of the virus.

To celebrate the holidays safely during the continuing pandemic, consider the following:

• Get vaccinated. Vaccines are the strongest layer of protection against the virus. Vaccines help prevent severe outcomes and hospitalization. While the virus can still spread among vaccinated people, people who aren’t vaccinated are especially at risk.

• Get boosted. Immunity from vaccines can wane over time. Getting a booster when it is time can help protect fully vaccinated individuals throughout the holiday season. According to the CDPHE, Coloradans with boosters are 47.5 time less likely to get infected with COVID-19 than unvaccinated people and 2.4 times less likely to get infected than people with only their primary vaccination series.

• Mask up. Wearing a mask has been proven to reduce COVID transmission from an infected person to others. Additionally, masks have been proven to reduce the risk of contracting COVID and can reduce the severity of infection if exposed to COVID while wearing a mask.

• Get tested. As a precautionary measure before gathering for the holidays, everyone should get tested to prevent the spread when a person is asymptomatic or has mild symptoms.

• Stay home if any symptoms start. While cold and flu season takes hold, COVID symptoms sometimes mimic common symptoms of seasonal illnesses such as cough, fever or chills, fatigue, headache, congestion and more. Unless feeling perfectly healthy, it is best to stay home to protect friends and family.

• Small, short, outdoor gatherings are generally safer. Consider hosting outdoors, keeping the guest list short and reducing the amount of time your group is gathering.

“Colorado is heading into a busy winter tourism season indicating an increase in visitors and travel to our community,” said Public Health Director Grace Franklin. “We can learn a great deal from last year’s trends and take advantage of the critical new tool we have this year: vaccines and boosters. While wearing a mask, staying home when sick, and testing before gathering are thoughtful preventative measures each of us can take, getting your vaccine is the most impactful thing you can do to protect yourself and others.”

Public Health has confirmed twenty-nine new positive cases of COVID-19 from test results received from December 9 through 15. Of these cases, two are nonresidents, 23 are confirmed as east end residents while four are confirmed as west end residents, one with residency unknown. As of release time today, there are 28 active local cases, all actively contagious cases are currently in isolation. There have been 1,376 total COVID cases among residents including 205 total breakthrough cases, three new hospitalizations and five COVID-related deaths. To learn more about the county’s current COVID-19 metrics, please visit the SMC COVID-19 dashboard.

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