COVID-19 and the holidays, health experts share their concerns

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SULLIVAN and KNOX CO., Ind. (WTWO/WAWV) — With Thanksgiving right around the corner, many people will be visiting with family and friends. However, health experts are warning of a potential surge in COVID-19 cases following the holidays.

Reasons for that include vaccination status and large gatherings indoors. The Knox County Health Department’s message for residents is to be cautious.

“With the cold weather, people often move closer together. That’s shown to be one of the reasons people get more viral illness and infectious disease,” Dr. Alan Stewart with the Knox County Health Department said.

He added that large indoor gatherings could contribute to a spike in COVID-19 cases.

‘We suggest that if you have a holiday gathering that you have all of the people vaccinated. Trying to limit the number of people while maintaining a safe social distance is always a good choice,” Stewart stated.

In Knox County, more people have made appointments to get vaccinated as the holiday’s approach. Those included appointments for first doses, pediatric vaccines and booster shots.

The county has a vaccination rate of over 50%.

“With the increase of the Delta variant, which is 100 times more contagious compared to the Alpha variant, we would have to have a much higher percentage of people vaccinated to achieve herd immunity,” He added.

In Sullivan County, the vaccination rate is 48%.

Public Health Nurse, Kelly Wood says the Sullivan County Health Department is averaging three vaccination appointments ever ten minutes at clinic days.

“We’d like to see people vaccinated. It’s important we get it to protect the immunocompromised, who is often who we meet with during the holidays,” Wood said. “Stay home if you’re sick, wash your hands and really just use common sense thinking,”

She encourages people to stay safe as the county’s last COVID-19 case surge came after Halloween.

“We will see probably a spike. Even though Sullivan County is blue, we don’t just hangout with blue counties. We will have multiple counties and out of state people. I recommend you just be aware of yourself,” Wood added.

The latest COVID-19 information can be found on this link.

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