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6 tips to avoid omicron variant symptoms over the holidays

Want to stay safe from the omicron variant during the holidays? Here’s what to know

Decorative holiday lights in Cumberland, Maine.
Decorative holiday lights are displayed at the Cumberland Fair Grounds on Tuesday, Dec. 14, 2021, in Cumberland, Maine. Want to stay safe from the omicron variant during the holidays? Here’s what to know.
Robert F. Bukaty, Associated Press

The omicron variant is here and it’s spreading like wildfire through the United States. But experts have some tips to help make sure the variant doesn’t catch fire at your holiday gatherings.

CBS News’ chief medical correspondent Dr. Jonathan LaPook recently put together a list of mitigation measures that you can take to avoid the spread of COVID-9 around you.

His six tips for staying safe are:

  1. Get vaccinated (and a booster if available).
  2. Wear a mask.
  3. Keep distance between yourself and another person.
  4. Wash your hands.
  5. Take COVID-19 tests if you’re worried about infection.
  6. Improve ventilation and air filtration wherever you go.

Many of these tips will sound similar to anyone who’s been reading about the coronavirus since its emergence in March 2020. Experts have long maintained that wearing masks and socially distancing can offer strong protection from spreading the virus to others, or catching it from someone around you.

Multiple scientists have been speaking about how to gather during the omicron variant’s wave. Bronwyn MacInnis, director of pathogen genomic surveillance at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard University, told reporters that it may be time to rethink holiday plans.

  • “Personally, I’m reevaluating plans for the holidays,” MacInnis told reporters, according to USA Today. ”It’s the responsible thing to do and what feels right given the risk.”

Similarly, Dr. Jacob Lemieux, an infectious disease expert at Massachusetts General Hospital, said it’s likely the omicron variant will exist at your holiday gathering, so be prepared for that.

  • The variant moves “faster even than the most pessimistic among us thought that it was going to move,” Lemieux said.
  • He added, “There’s a high likelihood that it will come to your holiday gathering.”