Alaska health officials share recommendations for second holiday season with COVID-19

A small group of friends sits around a fire at an Anchorage home in the winter of 2020. (Lex Treinen/Alaska Public Media)

It’s the second holiday season of the COVID-19 pandemic, but this year has one major difference from 2020, if you ask the state’s top doctor.

“We have vaccine this year versus last year, we didn’t. And it’s a really big game changer,” Chief Medical Officer Dr. Anne Zink told reporters on a media call last week. She said the vaccine has taken a burden out of holiday planning by allowing families to gather together more safely.

Dr. Zink recommends over-the-counter COVID tests if someone in your holiday gathering is immunocompromised, or if there will be a large group of people in attendance. She said her family was initially skeptical about how easy they’d be to use, but now they’re converts.

She said she won’t be home with them for Thanksgiving this year, however.

“My Thanksgiving isn’t going to be as fun as probably others. I’ll be working in the emergency department, partially because my colleagues are really getting a chance to partner and to be with their families, which they haven’t been able to be. And so I’m covering for them so they can gather with their families,” she said.

The state’s health department recommends avoiding crowded indoor spaces, wearing a mask around anyone who has a weakened immune system, and staying home if you are sick.

The state’s COVID-19 dashboard will not be updated over the holiday. Starting Dec. 6, the state will return to COVID-19 reporting only three days per week.

Claire Stremple

Alaska News Reporter, KTOO

I believe every Alaskan has a right to timely information about their health and health systems, and their natural environment and its management. My goal is to report thoughtful stories that inform, inspire and quench the curiosity of listeners across the state.

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