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U-M infectious disease doctor offers advice on navigating COVID-19 during the holidays

US Holiday Travel
Posted at 1:38 PM, Dec 22, 2021

ANN ARBOR, Mich. (WXYZ) — This is going to be our second Christmas and New Year's with the pandemic still a concern as the omicron variant of COVID-19 rips through the country and parts of Michigan.

As some people prepare to host holiday gatherings at their homes and venues, Dr. Payal Patel, an infectious disease specialist at University of Michigan Health, says:

And for hosts who want to add a layer of precaution, Patel said it's also fair to ask guests to get tested for COVID-19 24 hours before your party.

"That would be the best and safest way to get together this holiday season," she said.

Tuesday afternoon, Judy Wimberly was shopping for items for her holiday dinner that is going to be just family members who, if eligible, are vaccinated and boosted.

Judy Wimberly recently lost several relatives for causes that were unrelated to COVID-19.

"We're just staying small and thankful that we have each other," she said.

Event planner and owner of Detroit Balloon Bar Keita Pyfrom said her team visits a variety of businesses and venues to set up for parties, so in her contracts with clients, she details COVID-19 safety requirements to try to keep her team safe from infection.

And because it may be difficult to social distance with multiple vendors setting up in a location, Pyfrom asks for a time that they can set up when fewer vendors or only her team will be on site.

"We do require that if anyone that's on site is in the vicinity of our staff, they have to have on a mask," she said. "My main focus, my main goal is to keep my team safe regardless."

In downtown Trenton, Angie Guzzardo and Rina Belanger are co-owners of The Vintage Market.

"We've had a crazy busy holiday season," said Guzzardo, adding that they are so thankful to the community that has supported the small business owners that participate in their pop-up events around Michigan and Ohio as well as the vendors who set up in their brick-and-mortar store.

Guzzardo said people are free to choose what is best for them when it comes to masking, but they do take precautions when it comes to making sure there aren't large crowds at their Trenton store.

"We're going to take precautions on the amount of people that we let indoors," Guzzardo said of shoppers who don't mind waiting a few minutes to get inside like they did on Small Business Saturday.

"It worked out great and we had no complaints whatsoever," she said. "It was a fabulous day."

Patel is urging people to get fully vaccinated and boosted even if they're planning a quiet Christmas and New Year's at home.

But if you're going to spend time with others outside your household you don't know, it would be wise to consider wearing a mask during the event.

"If you're around people who, let's say you go to a holiday party, the host didn't ask for testing or vaccination status and you don't really know who else is vaccinated there, it does make sense to be masked. Again, the same in a grocery store or a large gathering," Patel said.