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COVID-19 during the holidays: ‘Really, it’s about taking care of each other.'

Rebecca Smith

Sara Humm is the public information specialist for Columbia/Boone County Public Health and Human Services.

She spoke about the continued presence of COVID-19 throughout Missouri, and about – some of the ways – people can do their best to keep their family, friends, and community safe during the holiday season.

Missouri Health Talks gathers Missourians’ stories of access to healthcare in their own words.

Sara Humm: I hear people often say that they're “over it,” they're “done with COVID,” and it's like, “yeah, we all are, nobody wants to be doing this anymore.”

But it's important that we do because we all likely have people in our lives who – for whatever reason – are at a higher risk, whether that be young children, or someone who can't get vaccinated, or someone who has a health condition that makes them high risk.

And so really, it's about taking care of each other, and those people that you know and love, and those people who you don't know.

You know, especially for people who are medically fragile, who if they do get COVID, it could be very severe for them, and that's scary.

"If you're not feeling well – even if you have some mild symptoms – maybe stay home?"
Sara Humm

I think, at this point, most of us probably know at least one person who has died due to COVID, and for some people, they've had multiple people in their lives and family members, and that's really hard, and so, that is an emotional part for a lot of people who've experienced that.

And maybe for people who haven't experienced that, that's maybe hard to relate to, but… a year ago, we were under health orders here in Boone County. This holiday season, we are not.

However, we do still recommend that folks follow those CDC guidelines for reducing that risk of transmission. So, those things, of course, would be vaccination, masking, social distancing, hand washing.

But then if you're not feeling well – even if you have some mild symptoms – maybe stay home?

I know that's not what people want to hear around the holidays is to avoid their friends and family, but that might be the best option, if you aren't feeling well to not spread any illness to those who you might be around – so that you can keep them safe and healthy, as well.

So, here, right now, Delta continues to be the dominant variant that is seen in Boone County and throughout really the state of Missouri, which can be, of course, concerning because it's more easily transmissible.

"If you plan to host a gathering that does have certain guidelines, I encourage you to please have that conversation with folks ahead of time."
Sara Humm

Especially with these upcoming holidays, and also with the weather – people tend to gather inside versus outside and so, more chances for that transmission to happen.

And, you know, really thinking about, while it can feel really comfortable to be in a room with friends and family who haven't seen in a while, you know, making sure that you're doing what you can to make sure everyone can stay as safe and healthy as possible.

And whether that be you know, if you're hosting a gathering, and you want to make it mandatory that people who are age eligible have back then vaccinated, or you want to require people to wear masks.

You know, that is something though, that you – if you plan to host a gathering that does have certain guidelines like that, I encourage you to please have that conversation with folks ahead of time.

Because that is not a surprise that you should bring on someone as they walk into your door. So, making sure that those expectations are known first before people actually arrive.

Rebecca Smith is a reporter and producer for the KBIA Health & Wealth desk. She was born and raised in Rolla, Missouri, and graduated with degrees in Journalism and Chemistry from Truman State University in May 2014. Rebecca comes to KBIA from St. Louis Public Radio, where she worked as the news intern and covered religion, neighborhood growth and the continued unrest in Ferguson, MO.