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Can I gather safely with family this holiday season? Local doctor weighs in

"I think it’s safe to say the messaging has been inconsistent and caused lots of problems for people," said Hennepin Healthcare Dr. Hannah Lichtsinn.

MINNESOTA, USA — On Friday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) updated its holiday guidance. On Monday, Dr. Fauci said he'll be celebrating with his family, sending some mixed messages about the advice. 

"These agencies shouldn’t be making promises that they can’t keep," said Hennepin Healthcare's Dr. Hannah Lichtsinn. "I understand people want to plan and anticipate what to do in the holiday season, but we’re going to be making decisions on the fly or certainly much closer to the events than we are now."

Dr. Lichtsinn says people do have two more tools at their disposal since last year, including rapid COVID-19 testing and vaccines.

"Everyone who is vaccinated has this huge layer of protection when it comes to getting together with family, even if community numbers are higher," said Dr. Lichtsinn.

Every county in Minnesota is at substantial or high community spread and there were 3,546 new cases, which is as many as last December.

The Minnesota Department of Health also says 3.2 million people are fully vaccinated. There have also been 32,796 breakthrough cases which accounts for about 1.032%. 

"Should we be limiting the size of gatherings, should we be having them at all if people are unvaccinated?" asked Dr. Lichtsinn. "Time will tell."

State and federal agencies do agree that improving ventilation, even just opening a window, and wearing masks is the safest way to enjoy your next holiday get-together.

The CDC also said unvaccinated people should not travel and pointed out that masks are still required on public transportation.

"In the absence of guidance, people are guessing and it helps so much to have those recommendations from trusted leaders, trusted public health leaders," said Dr. Lichtsinn.

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