Tulane doctor advises Louisianans to exercise caution during holidays


NEW ORLEANS (WGNO) — Tulane epidemiologist Dr. Susan Hassig says people need to be thoughtful about how they approach the holidays.

“This jump that we’ve seen just over the weekend in cases in Louisiana as a whole… and it is in most regions of the state, there have been rises, some bigger than others… should be concerning to not only people in the New Orleans metro area but in other parts of the state as well,” said Hassig, associate professor of epidemiology at Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine.

Dr. Hassig says there are several things people can do to make gatherings safer, including limiting the size of the gathering and getting tested before a social event; however, she says the most obvious precaution is getting vaccinated.

“[Getting vaccinated] is something that functionally will be a great protection, particularly if the people who are gathering are potentially vulnerable,” explained Hassig. “And so, that’s a really important thing to think about. It’s a little late to get vaccinated now before Christmas, but anything might help.”

Hassig also says both the vaccinated and unvaccinated should bring their masks to any social event.

“If your priority is to gather with family and have them around for next Christmas, too, then you should wear a mask indoors unless you’re actively eating, and I would recommend, given how warm it’s going to be in Louisiana this Christmas, that you eat outdoors,” recommended Hassig.

The epidemiologist adds that if people don’t take any precautions when gathering in groups, she predicts the state’s healthcare system once again being overwhelmed.

“I think it’s really critical that we think about the meaning of the season and take some care for those that we’re gathering with and the communities in which we live,” said Hassig.

According to the doctor, it’s also important that if you do decide to gather and you hear anyone from that gathering is showing any respiratory symptoms, you get tested immediately even if you’re vaccinated.

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