NYC Health Chief Offers COVID Tips on Staying Safe Against Omicron During the Holidays

"This holiday may not be the one that we envisioned, but we can still make it a safe one and a healthy one and of course an enjoyable one," NYC Health Commissioner Dave Chokshi said

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As the crowds dash to complete last-minute holiday shopping or put those finishing touches in their holiday plans, both delta and the rampant spread of omicron have many wondering if they should cancel their holiday plans.

During Mayor Bill de Blasio's coronavirus press briefing Monday, New York City's Health Commissioner Dr. Dave Chokshi shared tips on how to safely enjoy the holidays, reassuring the public that the latest explosive spread of COVID-19 doesn't necessarily mean spoilt holiday plans since there are still ways to enjoy the festivities in a safe way.

"I know how much people have been looking forward to the holidays, but omicron has changed the landscape and has led to anxiety and confusion," he said. "Here’s my best advice about navigating the coming days and weeks."

First, Chokshi advices everyone to plan their holiday celebrations around their most vulnerable family member, friend, or guest.

"That may mean hosting a virtual gathering or moving activities outdoors, or using masks, same-day tests and distancing," he said.

Chokshi further advices that older adults and others at higher risk to skip activities particularly in crowded settings – at least for the next few weeks.

"For my own family, we’ve made some adjustments for holiday plans around my young daughter who isn’t yet eligible for vaccination. We decided to postpone some out of town travel until sometime in the new year, though we will still find ways to spend time with family, both locally and virtually," he said.

According to Chokshi, "common sense precautions can help us lower risk and still enjoy holiday festivities more safely."

What are some common sense precautions? These include: meeting outdoors; improving the ventilation of a room by opening up windows and doors; and limiting gatherings to only those who are fully vaccinated.

Chokshi said all these precautions "help reduce risks."

Additionally, he suggests testing, using high-quality masks, social distancing and booster doses for even more added layers of safety.

"The people that I am most worried about with omicron are those that remain unvaccinated," Chokshi said. "Please take extra precautions for yourself and for the safety of others, like avoiding travel. And remember that it is never too late to get vaccinated."

Chokshi reminded those who are not fully vaccinated that regular testing is particularly important.

"Since demand for testing is high, consider taking regular home self tests since  supplies will increase."

If you test positive after taking a home self-test, you can call your provider or the city at 212-COVID-19 to be linked to care, Chokshi said.

"This holiday may not be the one that we envisioned, but we can still make it a safe one and a healthy one and of course an enjoyable one," Chokshi said.

For additional COVID safety tips for the holiday season, click here.

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