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Atrium Health expert optimistic COVID-19 holiday spike 'won't be as bad' as 2020

Dr. Katie Passaretti said she believes any COVID-19 spike during the holiday season "won't be as bad" as last year, but encourages masks and vaccinations.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently released its guidance for the 2021 holiday season and this year's guidelines are similar to what we saw in 2020. 

The CDC's top recommendation is to hold virtual celebrations and avoid large gatherings instead. Atrium Health infectious disease expert Dr. Katie Passaretti is optimistic a potential holiday COVID-19 spike won't be as bad as last year. 

"I think it will be, in my opinion, better than it was last year," Passaretti said on Wake Up Charlotte To Go. "As we've seen, every time there's group gatherings and you know, still partial vaccination within the communities, we'll see an uptick in cases. My hope, my belief, is that it won't be as bad as it was."

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On Sunday, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's top infectious disease expert, said it is still "too soon to tell" if holiday gatherings should be limited again this year. He could not assure people that health experts believe gathering would be safe this year.  

Passaretti said it's important that people remember there's more than just COVID-19 that can be spread. The CDC recommends getting the flu shot by the end of October, as it provides maximum protection for about six months. 

"The thing that I want people to remember is that it's not just COVID," Passaretti said. "We focus on COVID, but as we head into November or December, and nobody's wearing masks anymore ... we've already had our first case of flu in my system last week. There are a lot of other respiratory viruses that I do worry about that could add to the issue."

Passaretti said anyone who is in a high-risk environment or a large crowd should still wear a mask indoors. 

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