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Should you cancel holiday plans over the omicron variant? Use the ‘2 out of 3’ rule, expert says

Want to avoid omicron in your stocking? A new tip could keep you safe this winter

People wait to get tested for COVID-19.
People wait in a long line to get tested for COVID-19 in Times Square, New York, Monday, Dec. 20, 2021.
Seth Wenig, Associated Press

The holidays are here again and the United States has found itself in a new scenario with the coronavirus — the omicron variant has become the new dominant strain in the United States, spreading quicker and faster through the population.

  • So, with the holidays right around the corner, should you skip your holiday party? Should you cancel your trip to see your family?

Not yet, according to Dr. Leana Wen, a professor of health policy and management at the George Washington University Milken Institute School of Public Health.

  • Wen told CNN that people should not cancel their holiday plans yet. However, “I do think it’s prudent to re-evaluate them and make a risk-benefit calculation based on each family’s circumstance,” she said.

Wen said people should use the “two out of three” rule. When you’re spending time indoors, where the virus is circulating, consider having two out of three major layers of protection. Those three layers are:

  • Vaccination.
  • COVID-19 testing.
  • Masking.
  • So, for example, you can be vaccinated and wear a mask indoors. Or you can get a vaccination and take a rapid COVID-19 test before you see your family.

“If you want to go to an indoor gathering where people are eating and drinking — and therefore unmasked — and it’s an area with high viral spread, you need proof of vaccination and same-day testing,” she said.

There’s more you can do to stay safe from the omicron variant. CBS News’ chief medical correspondent Dr. Jonathan LaPook offered six different tips to keep you safe from omicron symptoms over the holidays, including:

  • Getting the COVID-19 vaccine.
  • Wearing a mask.
  • Social distancing from others.
  • Washing your hands all the time.
  • Taking COVID-19 tests when you’re worried about infection.
  • Improve ventilation in indoors spaces.

But don’t get it twisted — some experts are changing their plans. For example, Bronwyn MacInnis, director of pathogen genomic surveillance at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard University, said last week that the American people may want to consider their wintertime merriment, according to USA Today.

  • “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.”