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Science, Health, Tech

As holiday season arrives, health officials urge COVID caution

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State of Delaware
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As families gather for Thanksgiving, state health officials want to prevent a holiday surge in COVID cases.

They say after a downward trend, cases are on the rise again, going up 16% in just one week. Health officials said children ages 5-17 are driving the increase and pointed to Halloween parties as a contributing factor.

As the holiday season kicks off, State Medical Director Dr. Rick Hong urges people to keep gatherings small, wear a mask, especially around the unvaccinated, and get tested prior to the festivities even if they’re at low-risk for the virus.

“If you’re fully vaccinated, which is great, your chances are much smaller. So if everyone is vaccinated within your gatherings, you may not have to follow all the infection control measures, but you do have to realize you can still be infectious even without symptoms,” he said. “I think it’s important to get tested beforehand just to make sure you’re not bringing an unwanted guest to your party.”

The Division is also encouraging COVID vaccine booster shots. Last week, the FDA authorized boosters for all adults. Hong said there’s plenty of supply and locations to receive one in Delaware. The shots are available at pharmacies, state clinics and doctor’s offices.

He especially urges people age 50 and older and the immunocompromised to prioritize getting a booster shot, but says it’s beneficial for everyone.

“We have to do our part still since we’re still in the middle of a pandemic and getting your boosters will reduce the chance of not only you getting sick but also you spreading it to others,” he said.

Anyone who received a second dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines at least six months ago or the Johnson & Johnson vaccine two months ago are eligible to get a booster. For more information, go to DE.gov/boosters.