COVID calls for extra precautions during the holidays
Maine is experiencing a significant increase in COVID-19 cases. As your healthcare providers, we are very concerned about what this means for our community and for the safety of holiday celebrations.
Our state and nation have seen numerous outbreaks associated with large events. However, smaller gatherings can also lead to significant spreading of this virus. Many people infected with COVID-19 have no symptoms and may spread the virus to others — some who may become seriously ill.
As you make holiday plans, please note that the risk of spreading this virus increases as you expand your invitation list. The risk is lower when you celebrate with the people in your immediate household.
If you choose to gather with those beyond your household, consider mitigating your risk by following simple preventive measures, such as mask wearing, social distancing, and hand washing.
Travel increases risk
Travelling increases your chance of getting and spreading COVID-19. Staying home is the most effective way to protect yourself and your family. Do not travel if you have any symptoms of COVID-19 or if you have been around anyone who has had symptoms or a known diagnosis.
If you must travel, follow these tips from the CDC:
- Wear a mask at all times
- Stay at least 6 feet from anyone not in your household
- Wash your hands regularly (soap and water or hand sanitizer)
- Avoid contact with anyone who is sick
- Avoid touching your nose and mouth
- Check the COVID status of your destination
Increased cases strains testing capacity
The spike in cases is straining our capacity to meet patients’ need for testing. This has forced us to limit testing and focus on patients with symptoms of COVID-19, as well as frontline healthcare workers with known COVID-19 exposure but no symptoms.
This means we are unable to test anyone returning to Maine who wants to avoid quarantine. If you would like travel-related testing, the State maintains a website with locations that accommodate travel-related testing requests.
We remain honored to be your healthcare providers.
Please stay safe and healthy, and best wishes for a Happy Thanksgiving.
Dan Loiselle, MD, Chief Medical Officer, and the entire healthcare team at InterMed