How you can approach the holidays safely with many viruses still spreading

Posted at 5:27 AM, Nov 22, 2022
and last updated 2022-11-22 06:55:45-05

(WXYZ) — For the past two years, the holiday season has been disrupted by the pandemic, and as we approach the 2022 holiday season, viruses are still in circulation.

COVID-19 is still going around, cases of RSV continue to increase and the flu is hitting in full force.

Mateen Garrison is traveling just before the holidays, but protecting his young family is at the top of his mind.

"I got a three-year-old, so you know I don't want to be just out here like without a mask and I don't really know what's in the air," he said.

Physician Assistant Heather Wagner, with Express Med Urgent Care in Southfield, does know what’s in the air.

"Flu, RSV, all of these other upper respiratory viruses are really big right now," she said.

RSV has been a strain on hospitals, filling up pediatric beds and fueling surges at doctors' offices, urgent cares and more.

Symptoms are similar to COVID-19 – upper respiratory with a runny nose, sore throats and coughing.

This holiday season is still one where caution is key if you’re symptomatic. Even if it's just a runny nose for you, it could be more severe for others around the table

"Consider staying home this year, masking things of that nature because we really do want to keep families safe, whether it's from COVID or these other infections that are really rampant," Wagner said.

Also, read the room. Illnesses like RSV can be really dangerous for special populations like young children, the elderly and the immunocompromised. But, they can even affect healthy members of the community.

"Even if your immediate network doesn't have a vulnerable community member in it, a secondary person may," Wagner said.

There is no one size fits all answer. Wagner suggests erring on the side of caution, especially if you have a fever or other significant symptoms.

The CDC recommends masking indoors if you are unvaccinated, have a weakened immune system, or are fully vaccinated but in an area with substantial or high COVID-19 transmission.

The viruses that cause the common cold are also in circulation. Because the symptoms are so similar among all respiratory viruses, if you’re showing symptoms consider getting tested so you can get advice based on your illness