A mailman on his way to Portland during the pandemic, September 10, 2021 (KOIN)
PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Ahead of holiday season gatherings, Oregon health experts are urging people to take precautions amid a “triple threat” of viruses, including the flu, COVID and VRS.
Dr. Bill Messer, associate professor of molecular biology and immunology at Oregon Health & Science University, recommends washing hands and covering coughs and sneezes to reduce the chances of making others sick.
“We’re really going back to basics, so the basics are good cough hygiene, sneezing hygiene – sneezing into the crook of your arm – hand washing before and after meals, or any type of social contact or social interaction will go a long way to preventing there is a lot of transmission of respiratory viruses and bacteria, especially those that are spread by droplets,” explained Dr. Messer.
He also recommends keeping your hands away from your face to prevent transmission of the virus.
“Another thing that we don’t always think about, it’s another level that we don’t always think about, is keeping our hands out of our eyes, out of our mouth, away from our nose, because that’s where find our mucous membranes most susceptible to infection,” Messer added.
He adds that wearing masks in large gatherings such as airports and on public transportation can protect others from viruses.
Additionally, Messer says good air circulation can be another preventative measure to avoid getting sick.
“With COVID, we talked a lot about air circulation and we spent a lot of time outside. I don’t know if people need to celebrate Thanksgiving outside on the patio, but things like keeping good air circulation in your rooms, an open window, fans, air purifiers, all help air to circulate, everything improves air circulation in a room and decreases the chances of spreading certain pathogens that really fry in closed rooms and with very little air circulation,” Messer said.
The triple threat comes after the Oregon Health Authority urged parents to take precautions amid a shortage of RSV vaccines for infants.
The U.S. government is also sending out another round of four at-home COVID tests ahead of the typical surge during the holiday season, as reported by the Associated Press.
Messer recommends that Americans get tested for COVID-19, especially if they spend the holidays with people more vulnerable to the virus, including infants, the elderly and people with underlying health conditions.
“He’s kind of a triple threat. None have declared themselves to be the dominant triple threat, but we know from very recent experience that this holiday season will certainly bring one or more to the surface and we will do everything we can to limit this impact on ourselves and our family members and friends that we see primarily during the holidays, we should be mindful of that,” Messer said.