With record level COVID-19 cases, local hospitals are creating overflow units and worry family gatherings for Thanksgiving could make matters worse.
We caught up with the infectious disease doctors at Spectrum Health and Mercy Health St. Mary’s and have more on how you can stay safe at the dinner table this year, plus their warning on how this could turn into a hospital stay for your loved ones.
“Infections within a household are much more dangerous than infections that happened in the community, in the community, our guard is up, we're much more protected, we are careful about hand hygiene, we're wearing a mask all the time. When you get into small group gatherings or you're in your own home, all of us let our guard down and that's natural,” says Andrew Peter Jameson, MD, Infectious Disease and Internal Medicine, Mercy Health Physician Partners.
So this year Zoom is a great option to connect with family and in the meantime those who are gathering in the same home can take some steps that could help lower the risk of spreading COVID-19.
Such as, preparing your meal ahead of guests arriving so you can sit and eat. You can also try to spend more time outdoors near a campfire or patio heater.
“Other things like wearing masks when people aren't eating, using paper towels, in the bathrooms, all of those things can certainly help decrease the risk. But the largest thing that we can do to decrease the risk during the holidays, is to keep our gathering small,” says Dr. Russell Lampen DO, Infectious Disease, Spectrum Health.
Keep in mind cracking your windows to increase ventilation can help allow air exchange and help dilute the virus, because the amount that you’re exposed to can determine how severe your infection is.
“How much virus you get into you, with your exposure matters. What happens is if I'm wearing a mask and the person who's infected is wearing a mask, the amount of virus to get out of them and into me if they're infected is so much lower than if we were unmasked, what happens is the inoculum is low enough that we do not get a severe infection.The problem comes when we start going into unmasked scenarios, or we are in areas where we let our guard down. Because now, if I'm sitting in a living room watching the lions game and screaming at what they're doing again. I, if I'm infected. I will give everyone around me a huge viral inoculum. And because we're doing this over a prolonged period of time that inoculum is large enough that they will get severely ill this time,” says Dr. Jameson.
So while it’s a tough choice to make around the holiday’s it can ultimately save the lives of those we love.
The doctors also want to remind everyone to get a flu shot if you haven’t yet, saying the last thing we need is a flu pandemic on top of a COVID pandemic.