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Upstate Doctors Worry Holidays Could Cause COVID-19 To Spike Again


A group of Upstate Medical University doctors across a wide range of departments is worried the holidays could contribute to another spike in COVID-19 cases. They’ve issued a letter to the community urging caution and responsible behavior, at a time when people are both getting together more and growing weary of pandemic restrictions. Doctor Elizabeth Asiago-Reddy is Upstate’s Chief of Infectious Disease. She’s been watching case numbers rise significantly this month and doesn’t want a repeat of last year.

“We know from last year around the holiday time, this is when we saw our most significant spike in case numbers. And as much as we wish we didn’t have to make a reminder and we wish we weren’t dealing with Covid, we are still dealing with Covid. There are practical ways that our whole community can participate to help make things better.”

Their letter covers reasons COVID cases are rising: many are still unvaccinated; many have stopped using any protections; and more respiratory illnesses take place when people spend more time indoors. Their advice? Get vaccinated or a booster shot; and continue safety practices such as washing hands and masking when in close contact in public, and around anyone who’ s unvaccinated.

Asiago-Reddy also believes many of those who are unvaccinated are still weighing factors.

“Participating in a community of conversation where people are overtime being exposed to more and more accurate information. And then hopefully at some point they can make their own decision. The reality is there are some people who haven’t  fully dug their heels in yet, and the more and more they get exposed to this, the more it does finally sink in that, ‘You know what, I think it’s time to take that next step.’”

She notes in her private practice, they have recently given first doses of vaccines to people who, up until now, were unvaccinated. She says she wants to share accurate information about the vaccine based on research and context.

“Nothing in life is 100%. And I think we all take trips every day in our car and put our seat belt on knowing that, that seatbelt may not prevent us from getting into a car accident, but it’s likely to save our lives. But what we do know from a very large accumulation of data is that vaccines very significantly by, you know, 12 to 100 times are reducing the risk of death.”

Asiago-Reddy emphasizes, she doesn’t want to take the joy out of the holidays for people. She does continue to urge vaccinations and especially boosters to prevent breakthrough infections. She will also be masking at gatherings and public events to protect herself, and to do her part for the community to not expose others.