Holiday safety tips ahead of Thanksgiving, rise in flu cases across Ga.

Published: Nov. 16, 2022 at 10:52 PM EST
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COLUMBUS, Ga. (WTVM) - Almost three years, to the day, since the first COVID-19 case in the U-S, holidays are feeling different now. And tomorrow, we’ll be just one week from Thanksgiving.

And as many prepare for potentially big family gatherings, local health experts are offering tips to keep you healthy over the holiday season.

Last year after Thanksgiving and Christmas celebrations, there was a peak in positive COVID cases nationally. However, one local health expert says that while COVID numbers are lower, other viruses like the flu are still on the rise throughout Georgia.

Two years ago, walking was something doctors said Edward Dubose would never be able to do again.

Dubose is the former president of the Columbus chapter of the NAACP. Two years ago, he says he nearly died after catching COVID.

“First, I didn’t believe I could get it. Let’s put it that way. Right. I wasn’t practicing all of the safety measures,” said Dubose.

He was placed on ventilators and recalled a call from his wife.

“She said, ‘Happy Happy Anniversary, ’ and I said, ‘happy anniversary.’ I said, ‘I’m sorry, I didn’t get you a card, nothing like that...She said, ‘don’t worry about that. We have plenty more.’ And I said, this is my last one,” he said.

Years later, Dubsose says he still sees a lung doctor.

Mindful of his near-death experience, Dubose says he and his family are extra cautious around the Holiday season.

“Maybe this was a moment for all of us to reflect on being a little bit more careful. So during the holiday season, we’re going to wear a mask when we’re going to have it off some,” he adds, saying God spared his life.

Since the first positive COVID case in the United States three years ago, more than a million people have contracted the virus.

But cases have been going down most of this year.

“In fact, in our office, we haven’t had a positive COVID test since September, believe it or not,” said Dr. Susan McWhirter, a pediatrician at Rivertown Pediatrics. She says there are other viruses to watch out for, especially the Flu.

“So we had lots of kids who were sick. Some of that, we believe, is because we were isolating so much for the couple of years of COVID. We did not see much flu the last two years.”

With so many germs in the air, Dr. McWhirter offers these tips:

  • If you’re experiencing a fever, wait 48 hours BEFORE gathering with family
  • Wear masks
  • Stay hydrated
  • Get vaccinated

As many get ready to gather for Thanksgiving, there’s also a rise in the Respiratory Syncytial Virus.

“It is a virus that is known to cause respiratory problems, particularly in very young children. Kids under six months are high risk for complications from R.S.V. In an older person -- particularly a teenager or an adult -- It’s like a common cold,” said Dr. McWhirter.

Dr. McWhirter says she does expect COVID cases to rise after the holidays. So again, she encourages everyone to get their flu and COVID shots.