Local health leaders push for virtual holiday celebrations amid pandemic, advise El Pasoans to get flu vaccine

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EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) — With Halloween just 39 days away, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently dropped guidance for the upcoming holiday season and provided recommendations for people to follow so they can stay safe from COVID-19.

Local health experts said they’re continuing to push for virtual holiday celebrations instead, saying that it’s important for everyone to not let their guard down.

“This is really something that’s going into 2021 and we’ve been saying that for months now,” said Dr. Ogechika Alozie, chief medical officer at Del Sol Medical Center.

As the fall and winter holiday seasons approach, the CDC released holiday celebration guidance for Halloween, Dias de los Muertos and Thanksgiving. But the holidays that are more family oriented are what’s worrisome for local officials.

“More concerning to me, and to us, than Halloween is Thanksgiving and Christmas,” El Paso City/County Authority Dr. Hector Ocaranza told KTSM 9 News. “Those holidays are a time to share, a time to just be together, and unfortunately this year we’re going to continue to push for other virtual ways.”

The CDC recommendations highlight which holiday activities are low, moderate and high risk. An example for Halloween includes pumpkin carving at home or virtual costume contests.

The agency also advises people to get their flu shot between now and January.

Local health officials also urge El Pasoans to get a flu shot as soon as possible.

“A lot of the people are just believing everything they see on social media that they read about the vaccines,” Ocaranza explained, “but it’s one of the biggest tools that we have for preventing infections and what better than preventing that since it’s going to share a lot of the same symptoms as COVID-19.”

El Pasoans shared with KTSM their Halloween plans on our social media in response to the agency’s guidance. Some said they’ll be staying home, other said they’re still undecided.

“It’s going to be more common that you’re going to know someone close to you that got COVID, or that got hospitalized, or someone who lost a loved one because of COVID, so don’t let your guard down,” Dr. Ocaranza said.

The CDC also advises people who plan on hosting holiday celebration gatherings to look at their community’s COVID-19 numbers and decide whether to postpone, limit the number of invites or cancel altogether.

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