Medical experts, governors and local health authorities are making last-minute pleas for caution around the December holidays.
Leana Wen, an emergency physician and former Baltimore health commissioner, said she is less worried about people traveling by plane than what people will do once they get to their destination.
“Almost certainly they’re getting together with their loved ones. And I understand it’s Christmas and New Year’s and we want to see our loved ones, but there are viral hot spots all over the country,” she said in an interview on CNN.
She said if people gather indoors for lengthy periods without masks, “chances are somebody — there are going to be a lot of people who will get infected as a result, just because of how much virus there is all over the country.”
Wen said she hopes that by the holiday season in 2021, “ideally everybody will be vaccinated and we can see people indoors and celebrate together again. But we have to get through this winter because we already have a surge upon a surge. Our hospitals are filled because of Thanksgiving get-togethers.”
In a separate interview on CNN, Paul Sax, clinical director of the division of infectious diseases at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, urged people to avoid large gatherings, avoid crowded settings and if possible, avoid travel. He also made a case for testing.
“Testing before gathering does make sense. It may not be 100 percent protective, but it’s better than nothing,” he added.
Both urged people who are gathering to do so outdoors, where possible, and to maintain social distance.
Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf (D) tweeted an image with recommendations, including for people to wear a mask “indoors and outdoors if away from home,” and to “avoid hanging out with people outside your household.”
In a blunt message posted earlier this week, New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D) wrote: “No gathering is worth risking your life or the lives of your loved ones.”
In a group video message posted on Wednesday, Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker (R), Vermont Gov. Phil Scott (R), New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu (R) and Maine Gov. Janet Mills (D) asked New England residents to “find new and creative ways to connect safely.”
“We know it’s tough, the holidays are a special, special time of year and we all want things to be normal again,” Sununu said. “But no one wants covid to be an uninvited guest during the holidays.”