The CDC’s recommendations have historically gone for the “safest” route, but that’s been heightened during Covid, even throughout the Biden administration. Recommendations to not travel to countries that had significantly less percentages of Covid cases than, say, some states in the U.S., have been plentiful. However, that’s always been for the utmost of safety, even if it was considered outlandish by typical travelers. So ever since Covid began, it’s been a Your Mileage May Vary situation. Most travelers have taken the CDC’s recommendations with a grain of salt and have made their own decisions.
Anyway, in early October, the CDC released guidance regarding how they recommended Americans should safely celebrate the upcoming holiday season. This included many of the same recommendations they issued last year, including opting for virtual celebrations and avoiding in-person gatherings.
“Attending gatherings to celebrate events and holidays increases your risk of getting and spreading COVID-19. The safest way to celebrate is virtually, with people who live with you, or outside and at least six feet apart from others,” the recommendation said.
“If celebrating indoors, bring in fresh air by opening windows and doors, if possible. You can use a window fan in one of the open windows to blow air out of the window. This will pull fresh air in through the other open windows,” it continued.
There was one big difference though – unlike last year, more than half of the country is now considered fully vaccinated from the coronavirus (over 65% of those eligible have received it). So a lot of Americans, including medical experts, were pretty confused with recommendations to stay away from those outside your own home.
“Telling everyone in 2021 that the only way to celebrate Christmas safely is virtually really doesn’t tell the vaccinated that there was any kind of reward for being vaccinated,” said Dr. Monica Gandhi, Professor of Medicine and Associate Division Chief of Infectious Diseases at the University of California, San Francisco.
“We have to work on optimism, we have to work on messaging that these vaccines get you back to normal and that actually sounded very much like we had not just spent the whole last year trying to get people vaccines,” Dr. Gandhi continued.
Frankly, I didn’t look at holiday gatherings as a “reward” for getting my Covid shots – I looked at my vaccinations more as a way to simply stay healthy and, potentially, alive. But maybe that’s just me. 😉
But still, all things considered, “Don’t visit friends and family” was an unexpected update for this upcoming holiday season.
Fortunately, a couple of days after that October 1st update was posted, the CDC backtracked. They said that update was posted in error. It included guidelines from last year, before vaccines had been distributed, and had been caused by a computer glitch.
Speaking about the error, Kristen Nordlund, from the CDC’s public affairs department, said: “The content is in the process of being updated by CDC to reflect current guidance ahead of this holiday season. The page had a technical update on Friday, but doesn’t reflect the CDC’s guidance ahead of this upcoming holiday season. CDC will share additional guidance soon.”
The CDC’s page was soon updated to include the following:
Delay travel until you are fully vaccinated. If you are not fully vaccinated and must travel, follow CDC’s recommendations for people who are not fully vaccinated.
People who are fully vaccinated with an FDA-authorized vaccine or a vaccine authorized for emergency use by the World Health Organization can travel safely within the United States.
CDC will update these recommendations as more people are vaccinated, as rates of COVID-19 change, and as additional scientific evidence becomes available. This guidance applies to travel within the United States and U.S. territories.
It also includes the agency’s specific recommendations for travel for those who are vaccinated and those who are unvaccinated. However, it doesn’t mention the 2021 holiday season.
In an interview with “Face the Nation,” Dr. Anthony Fauci, chief medical adviser to President Biden, said it’s “just too soon to tell” whether holiday gatherings should be limited for the second year in a row due to the ongoing pandemic. But he also said that for now, Americans should focus on lowering the country’s number of new infections and hospitalizations.
“We’ve just got to concentrate on continuing to get those numbers down and not try to jump ahead by weeks or months and say what we’re going to do at a particular time,” Fauci told “Face the Nation. “Let’s focus like a laser on continuing to get those cases down. And we can do it by people getting vaccinated and also in the situation where boosters are appropriate to get people boosted.”
The CDC’s update specific to the holiday season will be included in the coming weeks.
Feature Photo: CDC
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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary