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Virus Experts Issue Warning About Going Here

Avoid large crowds, get vaccinated, and stay outdoors.

The holiday season is fast approaching, kicked off with Halloween in little more than a week. And with the advent of successful COVID-19 vaccines, the outlook for celebrating with friends and family looks much different than it did last year. "For groups that are vaccinated, I think we can enjoy the holiday season," said Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's top infectious disease expert said on Oct. 17. "You know, trick-or-treating on Halloween, Thanksgiving with the family. When you're in the family unit among people who are vaccinated, I think you should just enjoy the holidays as best you can in the family spirit." Despite this green light, experts warn that going one place is still dangerous. Read on to find out more—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You May Have Already Had COVID.


Going Here Is Still Dangerous

The crowd of visitors to the festival.

"Going to an event indoors has much more risk, in the likelihood of getting infected," said Dr. Christine Petersen, the director of the Center for Emerging Infectious Diseases at the University of Iowa College of Public Health, in an interview with CBSN on Wednesday. "Dilution is the solution: When you're in an outdoor environment, there's a lot more fresh air."

CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky concurred with Fauci's endorsement of Halloween trick-or-treating, but she also advised people to avoid large crowds, get vaccinated, and stay outdoors. "I wouldn't necessarily go to a crowded Halloween party, but I think that we should be able to let our kids go trick-or-treating in small groups," she said on Face the Nation Sunday. 

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Recommendations for Indoor Events

Woman with medical mask to protect her from virus

The CDC still officially recommends that people wear a mask when indoors in public places, regardless if you're vaccinated.

Dr. Mark Burns, an infectious disease specialist at the University of Louisville, told WAVE-TV on Thursday that wearing a mask, even if you're vaccinated, can help prevent the spread of COVID to unvaccinated people. He offered advice to people who want to attend indoor events: "With standing-room-only crowds, you may want to actually not be standing-room-only," he said. "Try to maintain distance. I would recommend that even if you're fully vaccinated, for an indoor venue, that you should wear a mask."

Dr. Peter Lindgren, a pediatrician with Intermountain Healthcare in Utah, told WSL-TV that people should remember three C's to avoid: crowds, confined spaces, and close contact. "If they're outdoors, you probably don't need to wear a mask," Lindgren said. "I think if one was to attend a Halloween party indoors, wearing a face-covering mask would be a good idea."

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Be Mindful of Others

Waiter coughing into elbow while serving customers in a restaurant.

Petersen urged people to remember the risk of exposing vulnerable populations to COVID this winter. "We need to both assess the risk of people with us and in our community we want to protect and also think of our larger community, and I think that's where we've really fallen short," said Petersen. "People are thinking in terms of their own risks and responsibilities and not necessarily the larger context."

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Time to "Up Our Game"

Girl washing her hands under running water in a black washstand

As cold and flu season gets underway, "We need to take that approach of as many measures of protection as possible," said Petersen. "As we head into the winter, we need to remember all that handwashing we were doing a year ago. We're going to need to be better about masking"— not just to protect against COVID-19, but other viruses like the flu and RSV, which doctors are seeing earlier and in more children this year, she said.

"When you're sitting together in crowded places inside, I know from my own lecture halls, when you come back from Thanksgiving break, you hear a lot of coughing," said Petersen. "So let's all try to up our game a bit as we head into this new season." 

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How to Stay Safe Out There

Female doctor or nurse giving shot or vaccine to a patient's shoulder. Vaccination and prevention against flu or virus pandemic.

Follow the fundamentals and help end this pandemic, no matter where you live—get vaccinated ASAP; if you live in an area with low vaccination rates, wear an N95 face mask, don't travel, social distance, avoid large crowds, don't go indoors with people you're not sheltering with (especially in bars), practice good hand hygiene, and to protect your life and the lives of others, don't visit any of these 35 Places You're Most Likely to Catch COVID.

Michael Martin
Michael Martin is a New York City-based writer and editor. Read more about Michael