Local health leaders provide COVID-19 guidance for holiday season

As COVID cases continue to climb and the Christmas holiday draws closed, local health leaders say even with a vaccine the holiday season could be a major source of spread.

“The virus is still circulating, yes there is a vaccine now, but it has gone into a really few number of people in the Quad Cities,” says Janet Hill, Chief Operating Officer at Rock Island Health Dept.

The Rock Island Health Dept. says cases were a little better than expected after Thanksgiving. “But it wasn’t good. We still saw triple digit numbers for quite a while after Thanksgiving,” says Hill. “We are very worried that people that did what we asked them to do for Thanksgiving will not do it for Christmas.”

Epidemiologist Rebecca Heick says even though we have a vaccine, that does not mean we can let our guard down. She says masks, social distancing, and not gathering with people outside your household will help curb case numbers. “Those things are going to need to continue for probably the next six months, maybe a little bit longer depending on how the vaccination process progresses,” says Heick.

Experts say holding off on gathering over these next holidays will slow the spread so we can have a much more normal Christmas season in 2021. Hill says, “Is a family gathering now rather than several months from now when we could be past all this, is it really worth it?”

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