Local health officials offer holiday COVID-19 guidance amid CDC confusion

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — There’s been some confusion after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) posted its holiday COVID-19 guidance to its website on Friday then deleted the page on Monday.

The agency said a technical update, re-posted last year’s guidance in error, and this year’s guidance will be released soon.

After being apart last holiday season, many of us are eager to celebrate this year in person with our family and friends.

Local physicians and Monroe County Public Health Commissioner Dr. Michael Mendoza said this year most of us can celebrate in person, but it’s important to remember we are still in a pandemic.

"There’s one big difference that distinguishes this year from last year and it’s the presence of the vaccine," Mendoza said.

Mendoza said if you’ve gotten a COVID-19 vaccine, you can enjoy a more normal holiday season with your family, however, you should still be mindful of large indoor gatherings.

"Particularly with people who you may not be interacting with on a frequent basis, from that stand point we’re going to be looking at guidelines that are very similar to last year but we do not have to be a ridged as we were last year because we have that vaccine," Mendoza said.

Local infectious disease expert Dr. Maryrose Laguio-Vila said if you’re hosting an indoor gathering there are a few precautions you can take to help minimize the risk of spreading COVID-19 among guests.

"Ideally there should be the ability to not only have space between everyone, not crowding shoulder to shoulder, as well as consideration if you keep some windows opened, keep the air circulation going as well as access to hand hygiene opportunities," Laguio-Vila said.

But what if not everyone is vaccinated?

"If we’re in mixed company it really does mean that you want everyone to stay safe and the safest thing would be for everyone to mask," Mendoza said. "Now that might feel like a little bit of a punishment for those who are vaccinated, but the reality is if there’s anybody unvaccinated in the crowd there’s going to be somebody at risk."

That’s why health officials continue to urge anyone who’s eligible to get vaccinated.

"I’m not under the concept that a vaccine is perfect but I do think it is the best opportunity for people to empower themselves to protect themselves and their loved ones," Laguio-Vila said.

If you want to keep the peace at your family gathering, health experts suggest you have conversations ahead of time so everyone understands the expectations of those hosting and those attending.