This year's holiday season is starting right in the middle of a "Tripledemic" of COVID-19, Influenza and Respiratory syncytial virus that have helped strain hospitals nationwide.
The number of carbon dioxide cases is lower than it was last winter, but the number of deaths is still high. The flu and other respiratory infections have been on the rise.
According to the Department of Health and Human Services, the number of hospital beds occupied is the highest it has been since last winter.
The public health experts were asked how Americans should celebrate the holiday season. They suggest that Americans take stock of the risk and take appropriate safety precautions to protect themselves and those who are most likely to face severe disease.
As many of us have given it up for a couple years, everyone is ready to do as much as they can. We have to navigate how best to do what we want to do.
It's time to think about what you're going to do for the holidays. Which events are your top priority? Who are you interested in seeing?
Do a risk assessment first. Do you want to risk getting sick with the people you plan to see? Do you have a group of healthy young adults together? Are you going to attend a large family reunion with children and older people in the same home?
You can use those questions to make a decision on which safety measures to take. Every family and individual is going to have their own quirks.
People may feel comfortable at a bar. Not so much for others. He said that if you want to protect the vulnerable person, you should incorporate some of the lessons from the last few years.
The public health experts who spoke with NPR agreed on one thing: get your shots.
Most children are able to get the bivalent COVID-19 booster shots. Adults who completed an initial vaccine course at least six months ago can get the Novavax vaccine as a booster.
The flu shots are important as well. At least 13 million Americans have been exposed to the flu this season, and over 100,000 have been hospitalized, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The flu shot take-up has been low. According to the CDC, only a quarter of Americans have been immunized. The University of Michigan's infectious disease specialist said that people who haven't gotten their shot should.
This year's vaccine is a good match to the strain circulating. Flu shots don't prevent all infections, but they can help prevent hospitalizations, deaths, as well as transmission.
The other source of agreement was this one. We will ask you to stay home if you have any symptoms. Rochelle Walensky, head of the CDC, told NPR that they don't want people to gather if they are unwell.
According to a scientific review published earlier this year in the journal PLOS Medicine, the risk of getting an STD from someone who isn't sick is lower than it is from someone who is.
"Staying home when you're sick is one of the most important things we can do to keep other people safe," said Dr. Monica Gandhi, an infectious disease specialist at the University of California San Francisco. You can't go to a holiday party when you're coughing and sneezing.
If you feel unwell, get tested at a pharmacy or grocery store. A flu test can be arranged.
antivirals can be used to shorten your disease course if you are diagnosed early.
Gandhi said that ventilation is one of the strongest things that can be done to protect ourselves.
Respiratory diseases such as COVID can be hard to spread outdoors due to the lack of natural air flow.
Everything can't be moved outside. There will be many social gatherings indoors. Spending a lot of time indoors is inescapable for family members who travel a long distance to see each other.
If the weather permits, you could take a walk in the park, ice skate or stroll an outdoor holiday market instead of going to a bar or restaurant.
Gandhi suggests doing something to improve the air quality. If the weather permits, open the windows. Cracked windows and ceiling fans can help if not.
She said that it was the strongest non-pharmaceutical intervention that had been revealed during the Pandemic.
During a holiday season, some time in public might be unavoidable. The CDC is encouraging people who are more vulnerable to wear high-quality, well-fitting masks in public.
A lot of people are sick around us right now and they are in crowded indoor spaces. Put that mask on.
There are many studies on the effectiveness of masks.
N95s or KN95s have been shown to block virus particles in laboratories. If you wear a high-quality mask around others who aren't masked, you'll be less likely to get an infectious disease.
"I don't think it's hard to wear a mask," said the woman. When you're in a crowded and poorly ventilated indoor space, I encourage you to keep that mask handy.