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CDC recommends masks for COVID over holidays for 3rd year

Lawrence Taylor, 77, waits for his turn to get COVID-19 vaccine. (Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times/TNS)
December 05, 2022

With the holiday season in gear, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is once again encouraging Americans to wear masks and take other measures to minimize the spread of multiple respiratory illnesses now circulating, including COVID-19.

While experts are expressing cautious optimism about COVID levels this winter, it’s being joined by the flu and another illness called RSV in what some are calling a “tripledemic.” To combat it, CDC officials are advocating pandemic-era habits that should sound familiar, CNBC reported.

“We would encourage all of those preventive measures — hand washing, staying home when you’re sick, masking, increased ventilation — during respiratory virus season, but especially in areas of high Covid-19 community levels,” CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said in a call with reporters Monday.

Those tips are particularly important as the weather gets colder and people spend more time indoors with each other.

“You could get really, really sick this year and ruin your holiday celebrations if you don’t get vaccinated,” said Sandra Fryhofer, board chair of the American Medical Association. 

Walensky said people should wear masks when traveling on planes, trains, buses or other public transportation. They should also consider it if they have an elevated risk of severe disease or live in an area with high levels of COVID-19.

About 5 percent of Americans live in counties the CDC believes have mask-worthy levels of COVID-19, CNBC reported. See if your county is one of those here.

Walensky strongly advised eligible people to get a flu shot and Covid booster. CBS News reported that the flu has already sickened nearly as many people as it did all last season. While there is no vaccine for RSV, it may have already peaked, according to CBS.

“We now face yet another surge of illness. Another moment of overstretched capacity and really one of tragic and often preventable death,” Walensky said.