Medical experts warn of post-holiday COVID-19 surge

Holiday travel record numbers since pandemic began
Posted at 12:32 PM, Dec 28, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-28 19:34:48-05

OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — Early holiday travel numbers show record turnout at airports across the country since the pandemic began. Now medical experts warn of a post-Christmas COVID-19 surge and fear New Years Eve could cause another spike in cases and hospitalizations.

Infectious disease experts from CHI - Creighton University Medical Center, Dr. Renuga Vivekanandan and Dr. David Quimby held a virtual question and answer session on Monday afternoon. They discussed post-Christmas COVID-19 cases, holiday travel, what we could see in the coming weeks and the importance of celebrating New Year’s safely.

Both physicians said they participated in coronavirus vaccine trials and believe that they received the active vaccine, but haven’t been given official confirmation that their shots were active doses. Quimby mentioned that he had a mild reaction to the shot and has now tested positive for COVID-19 antibodies, which is why he believes his vaccine was an active dose.

The two medical doctors said that COVID-19 rates in Nebraska declined following Thanksgiving, which they took as a good sign that people were careful. They also mentioned that the infection rate is still much higher than it was in September and October, even if it is down from late November when the numbers peaked.

Related: CHI frontline staff discuss personal experiences with vaccine, look ahead to 2021

Quimby said he is concerned about New Year’s Eve celebrations triggering an increase in cases if people gather in large groups.

"I am a little bit concerned about New Year's just because if you think about what people do for holidays, for those who are not strong introverts like me, there tends to be more public parties and things like that with News Year's than family gatherings at Thanksgiving," he said.

The doctors also said that not all the news is good and cautioned that Nebraskans and Iowans need to continue to follow recommended safety guidelines.

  • Stick with COVID-19 safety protocols until at least 70% of the population is vaccinated.
  • There has been an uptick in COVID-19 related deaths among older adults, even though overall numbers are down since November.
  • If you have a known exposure wait a couple of days before getting tested because it can take a couple of days for the infection to show up on tests.
  • If there is a surge in cases following the holiday it will happen around three weeks later.
  • Continue to wear masks, wash hands and socially distance.
  • It’s best not to participate in New Year’s Eve parties and gatherings this year.
  • If you choose to celebrate on New Year’s Eve, consider wearing a face shield while drinking and make sure the space is well ventilated.
  • They believe that vaccinating teachers and school staff members would be an important step to get kids back to in-person learning. Adults seem to be at a greater risk than young children.
  • If you’ve already had the virus it’s possible that you could still become a carrier and pass it to others. There isn’t a lot of data on re-infections.

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