SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WCIA) — The Illinois Department of Public Health is reminding residents to do their part to stop the spread of seasonal viruses ahead of the holidays.
Some recommendations IDPH encourages the public to stay healthy include getting tested before attending holiday gatherings, especially if you’ll be visiting someone at high risk for severe COVID-19; to stay home if you are sick; and practice good hand hygiene. In addition, officials urge holiday hosts make sure gatherings are well-ventilated.
“With respiratory illnesses such as RSV, the flu, and COVID-19 leading to increased illness and hospitalizations, I strongly recommend using all available strategies to stay healthy and safe,” IDPH director Dr. Sameer Vohra said.
OSF HealthCare family medicine physician assistant Lauren Petoskey also recommends wearing face masks to keep viruses at bay this winter.
“I think mask wearing is definitely going to help reduce exposures and spread of all sorts of different infections,” Petoskey said. “Most viral infections are going to be spread through secretions – whether it be sneezing or coughing or wiping your nose – so if you have a mask on, it’s going to provide that barrier.”
Petoskey also advises everyone to keep up to date on the yearly flu vaccine and recent COVID-19 boosters for the best chances of avoiding common diseases.
“Getting vaccinated against the infections that we know are severe will help,” she said. “We encourage everyone to get their flu vaccine and keep up to date on their COVID boosters. That way, your body already has that mounted immune response to be able to fight off the infection if you do get exposed to it.”
To find a COVID-19 testing location near you, you can visit IDPH’s testing locator website. IDPH has also partnered with Project ACT to deliver at-home COVID-19 tests for free to certain zip codes in the state.