As COVID cases rise, local experts say now’s time to reduce exposure before holidays

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Planning on travelling for the holidays or getting together with loved ones? Health officials say now is the time to try to help control the spread of COVID-19.

With case counts rising in the Kansas City area, those health officials aren’t calling for a quarantine or to stay at home. But are asking everyone to make intelligent informed decisions on indoor gatherings.

It’s a busy time of year, with plenty of holiday events and a big game for the Kansas City Chiefs Thursday night that’s sure to have people packing sports bars to watch. Which might be okay to attend if you and those around you are vaccinated.

But people tracking the virus say there are factors to consider with Kansas City cases nearly doubling the past two weeks and deaths up 75% and hospitalizations up 60% the past month . Those rising case counts attributed to Thanksgiving gatherings.

“If you are exposed today you may not know that you have COVID until Christmas Day,” Alex Francisco, a Kansas City Public Health Department statistician, said.

Which could put you and loved ones at risk. It’s why University of Kansas Health System’s Dr. Dana Hawkinson said indoor gatherings should be more closely scrutinized.

“If you know you are going to be doing things with people who are higher risk you maybe want to hold back from some of the social events right now,” Hawkinson said.

“I get that everybody is sick of masking, everybody is sick of having to think so hard about every encounter they might want to do, but what is the goal, to keep yourselves healthy, the ones you love healthy,” Infectious Disease Dr. Nathan Barr added.

Health officials say it’s okay to ask uncomfortable questions about exposure, symptoms and vaccine status before making your final holiday gathering plans. If you are around lots of people over the next few days, consider getting tested shortly before gathering the tree to open gifts or for Christmas dinner.

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