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3 things to know about traveling and gathering this holiday season

Health experts are urging booster shots, testing and wearing a mask when you are unaware of others' vaccination status.

AUSTIN, Texas — The holiday season is in full swing and many Americans are planning to travel to gather with their loved ones. Here are three things to know about traveling and gathering in the time of COVID-19 and the omicron variant.

1. Vaccines are the best protection against the omicron variant

The director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is urging everyone to get a booster shot.

"Vaccination with a primary series and boosting with an additional dose for those who are eligible will keep people out of the hospital and save lives," Dr. Rochelle Walensky said.

The CDC says more than 50 million Americans have now gotten their booster shots. However, the CDC also says the delta variant and Thanksgiving gatherings are largely to blame for the current rise in COVID-19 cases.

2. COVID-19 testing should be used ahead of gatherings

In the past week, 36 states have seen an increase of 10% or more in new daily COVID-19 infections. Now the CDC is updating its advice for holiday gatherings.

The CDC says even people who are vaccinated should get a rapid COVID-19 test before an indoor gathering. It's also important to make sure the rapid test you use has been approved for emergency authorization. 

3. If you don't know others' vaccination status, wear a mask

The CDC has advised communities with substantial and high transmission rates to require masks indoors. The agency said that guideline is especially important for gatherings with unvaccinated children and older, more vulnerable people.

In New York, a new mandate goes into effect on Dec. 13 until at least mid-January requiring masks at all indoor public places unless businesses or venues check for proof of vaccination.

In the past month, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the White House's top medical advisor, said if you aren't aware of anyone's vaccination status at a gathering you plan to attend, it's easiest and safest to wear a mask.


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