Gwen Baumgardner: For more than a year and a half we watched the COVID numbers fluctuate across the country waiting for an indicator that the pandemic is over. The latest numbers show COVID cases have declined in several areas of the country, which is obviously good news. But is the worst really behind us.
I’m joined by straight arrow medical expert, Dr. Payal Kohli. Dr. Kohli, what can you tell me about this trend? Is it vaccination and booster rates? Just the natural COVID way it was, what can you tell me about these lower numbers?
Dr. Payal Kohli: You know, when of course, it’s very encouraging news to hear. But I do want to emphasize that it doesn’t necessarily mean that the worst is behind us. Now, as more of us get vaccinated, especially those kids that are now hopefully going to become you know, more and more eligible for the vaccines, we are going to continue to see this kind of positive news. But we have to keep in mind that there’s still a large proportion of the country that’s not vaccinated, that could certainly create a new variant, we also have to keep in mind that this virus does follow a little bit of a rhythm it a little bit of a cycle and receive this with every peak that every couple of months or so we seem to have ebbs and flows. So I don’t want to celebrate too early. But at the same time, I think this is very encouraging, especially given that we’re about to go into the winter season, when we normally see these types of infections increase.
Baumgardner: Is it too soon to be making some holiday plans? I know a lot of parents do not want to cancel Halloween again. And of course, there’s Thanksgiving that’s coming up.
Dr. Kohli: Yeah, you know, that’s the great news this year, we actually feel that many of the holiday celebrations that we normally like to do can be done safely. Now one thing I will say is that if you have somebody in your family who’s unvaccinated, but eligible for the vaccine, now is the time to get it because it takes about five or six weeks, depending on whether you get Pfizer or Moderna for your body to build up full immunity. So that puts us right at that Thanksgiving period, and really sets you up for success over the holidays, if you have to travel, even in the face of rising cases, because then you’ve got people in your family that are protected.
Now if there are people in your family that are not eligible for the vaccine yet, that’s when you have to have your guard up. It doesn’t mean you have to cancel all your celebrations, but it means you have to try to surround them with as many vaccinated people as possible, because that is one mechanism by which we can protect our young kids, for example, that are not yet eligible for the vaccine is by keeping them around adults that are vaccinated, keeping their masks up in public places, and just reminding them about hand hygiene and all those other mitigation measures.
Baumgardner: So a little bit of planning and maybe conversations before you decide what to do this holiday season.
Dr. Kohli: Yes, that’s exactly right. And, you know, we don’t necessarily have to throw the baby out with the bathwater. So it doesn’t mean that all celebrations have to be virtual. But we do have to be smart about it. We have to make sure that if anyone’s feeling symptomatic in any way, you know that we canceled plans if we need to testing rely heavily on testing as well, I would really encourage that we all seem to have forgotten about the value of testing. Now that the vaccine is here. But having those at home test kits available, using them frequently using them after you travel. It’s another way just another measure to keep ourselves safe this holiday season.