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Should holiday gatherings be scaled back due to COVID-19 surge?

Masks or proof of vaccination are going to be a requirement at all public indoor spaces effective immediately in New York. It’s the latest statewide response and mandate handed out by Governor Kathy Hochul, in an effort to get COVID-19 numbers and hospitalizations down.

But, experts are warning that despite this measure – precautions should be taken ahead of holiday gatherings to ensure that numbers don’t rise further.

“This is a preemptive strike to make sure that we can protect people, stop this from spreading particularly with the unknown characteristics of the new variant,” Hochul said at the time of the mask mandate announcement.


Dr. Stephen Thomas, director of Upstate Global Health, says vaccines are important, but the other steps that were taken at the start of the pandemic are too.

“We do know that masks still work,” Thomas told WSYR-TV in Syracuse. “WE also know that obviously social distancing and physical distancing also works.”

The size of gatherings is a major component. While the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has not released any official guidance on scaling back holiday gatherings – some experts say it’s a question individual families should weigh.

“How big are those gatherings going to be because every additional person is additional risk,” Dr. Thomas asked. “Who’s going to attend? Are you going to have people that are highly vulnerable to a bad outcome if they get infected, you know, sitting at the table with a bunch of younger people or people who aren’t being vaccinated?”

Booster shots are now available for adults. Thomas says the best course of action, regardless of other factors, is getting vaccinated against COVID with a booster.



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