If you or someone you know may be considering suicide, call 988 or message the Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741741.
First things first - remember that COVID isn’t the only thing you can get sick with. Flu and RSV are surging, too, and hospitals are overwhelmed. If you’re sick, skip this year’s Thanksgiving meal for the sake of your loved ones. Even if your COVID test was negative, you could still have flu or RSV. Getting up to date on your flu shot and your COVID booster are the best things you can do to protect yourself and your family. Ventilation is key for indoor gatherings - open windows, use filters and fans, and get as much air circulating as possible to reduce the spread of flu and COVID. RSV spreads through larger particles and fomites, so handwashing is key for preventing that. It’s also a good idea to have everyone test beforehand!
Our recommendation, when possible, is to take a test 24-48 hours before your gathering, and then another one the day of, just before you or your guests arrive. At-home rapid tests aren’t great at catching asymptomatic COVID, but they’re much more accurate when you do serial testing a day or two apart. Of course, if you have symptoms, it’s best to take one for the team and stay home this Thanksgiving to avoid spreading illness to your loved ones.
Our friend Mara Aspinall covered COVID rebound in this week’s Sensitive & Specific newsletter. COVID rebound happens in people who were treated with Paxlovid, the antiviral, and in people who weren’t. It appears to happen more often after Paxlovid, but the exact numbers are hard to pin down and may change based on which variant is in play. A recent study from this past summer when BA.4 and BA.5 were top dogs showed nearly 20% of people had Paxlovid rebound, but that’s tempered by the fact that it found about 7% rebounded even without treatment. It’s still incredibly effective at preventing severe disease (81%!), and most rebound disease is mild. The reality that rebound happens shouldn’t deter anyone from getting treated, especially if they’re at high risk. It saves lives (plus, you might still rebound even if you don’t get treated).
We don’t think it will be. A new analysis from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation out of the University of Washington says that we’re not likely to get hit as badly this year, unless a new variant crops up out of the blue that isn’t on our radar right now. Obviously, it’s possible since that’s what happened with Omicron last year, but it’s not very likely. The spike in “common” viruses like RSV and flu could be what makes this winter rough, rather than a COVID surge, but if cases don’t skyrocket after next week’s holiday gatherings, we’ll feel better about our overall outlook.