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Atrium Health Navicent Physicians Offer Tips for Staying COVID-Safe This Holiday Season

With many people in central and south Georgia excited to celebrate the holidays with family and friends, physicians at Atrium Health Navicent continue to urge everyone to continue to practice COVID-safe behaviors to prevent the further spread of COVID-19.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has recommended that everyone aged 5 and older complete a COVID-19 vaccination series. Booster vaccinations are also recommended for those eligible.

“Many of us missed out on favorite holiday traditions last year due to COVID-19. What makes this year different is that we have the ability to be vaccinated against COVID-19, making holiday gatherings and traditions safer,” said Dr. Patrice Walker, Chief Medical Officer for Atrium Health Navicent. “With the threat of the Omicron variant and continued spread of the virus, take precautions this holiday season. If you haven’t yet completed a vaccine series, or if you’re eligible for a booster, reduce your risk of serious symptoms by getting vaccinated.”

Atrium Health Navicent physicians offer additional tips to protect you and your family this holiday season.

1. What steps should you take to have a COVID-safe gathering?

· Wear a mask indoors. Wear well-fitting masks over your nose and mouth if you are in public indoor settings if you are not fully vaccinated. Even those who are fully vaccinated should wear a mask in public indoor settings in communities with substantial to high transmission, or if they have weakened immune systems. Do not put a mask on children younger than 2 years old.

· Host an outdoor event. Outdoors is safer than indoors, especially for large groups of people.

· Clean and disinfect. Wipe down frequently-touched surfaces such as tables, doorknobs, light switches, countertops, toilets, faucets, and sinks.

· Provide hand sanitizer for your guests. If you are attending a gathering, bring hand sanitizer with you.

· Wash your hands often. Wash with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially before eating or preparing food, before touching your face, after being in a public place, after using the restroom, and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.

2. What steps should you take for holiday meals?

· Wash hands for at least 20 seconds with warm soap and water prior to preparing food, wear a mask while preparing food, and limit the number of people in the area where food is being prepared.

· Designate one server, rather than having guests serve themselves. The server should properly wash their hands prior to serving and wear a mask while serving.

· Encourage guests not to eat and/or drink after one another.

3. What steps should you take if traveling?

· The CDC recommends delaying travel until you are fully vaccinated.

· Get tested for COVID-19. Take a viral test one to three days before traveling, and again a few days after returning home.

· Know your risk. If you are traveling, be aware of COVID-19 case levels and the risk of community spread at your destination. If you are inviting guests from out of town, consider COVID-19 case levels in their area.

· Avoid crowds and maintain social distancing while traveling.

· Wear masks for the duration of your journey.

· Wipe down high-touch surfaces, like tray tables and seatbelts, when boarding a plane.

4. Who should avoid holiday celebrations this year?

· Those who are currently diagnosed with COVID-19 or have been exposed to someone with COVID-19.

· People who may be at high risk of mortality if they contract COVID-19, including those with chronic conditions and the elderly.

COVID-19 vaccines and booster shots are available by appointment. Schedule your appointment today at COVIDSafeGa.org.

About Atrium Health Navicent

Atrium Health Navicent is the leading provider of healthcare in central and south Georgia and is committed to its mission of elevating health and well-being through compassionate care. Atrium Health Navicent provides high-quality, personalized care in 53 specialties at more than 50 facilities throughout the region. As part of the largest, integrated, nonprofit health system in the Southeast, it is also able to tap into some of the nation’s leading medical experts and specialists with Atrium Health, allowing it to provide the best care close to home – including advanced innovations in virtual medicine and care. Throughout its 125-year history in the community, Atrium Health Navicent has remained dedicated to enhancing health and wellness for individuals throughout the region through nationally recognized quality care, community health initiatives and collaborative partnerships. It is also one of the leading teaching hospitals in the region, helping to ensure viability for rural health care for the next generation. For more information, please visit www.NavicentHealth.org.


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