Labor Day is approaching (it’s Monday), signaling the end of summer. While the pandemic started off positively this year, with rising vaccination rates and fewer cases of the virus, things took a quick turn over the summer, and now the picture is less clear.
With the Delta variant on the rise, data suggests that we’re in for a rough latter half of the year, much like 2020. When it comes to Labor Day, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has some advice for travel and social gatherings.
“First and foremost, if you are unvaccinated, we would recommend not traveling,” CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said during a White House briefing. “People who are fully vaccinated, and who are wearing masks, can travel, she said.
“Although, given where we are with disease transmission right now, we would say that people need to take these risks into their own consideration as they think about traveling.”
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If you’re not vaccinated and plan on traveling anyway, the CDC suggests to follow the next steps: get tested 1-3 days before your trip, and 3-5 days after you’ve arrived at your destination; quarantine for 7 days once you’ve arrived at your destination; monitor for symptoms; and wear a mask and social distance from others. Honestly, just get the vaccine.
While traveling is the main concern come Labor Day weekend, experts are also worried about social gatherings. CNN spoke with Dr. Leana Wen, their medical analyst, who explained that things are very different when compared to last year’s Labor Day, since there are vaccines available and we have a better understanding of the virus. Still, there remains plenty of cause for concern.
“That said, the vaccines are not 100% effective,” said Dr. Wen. “The higher the rate of infection in the community around you, the higher likelihood you will have of contracting a breakthrough case COVID-19. Chances are that you would get a mild infection even if you did get the virus, but some people will not want to get a breakthrough infection.”
She reiterates that unvaccinated people are at greater risk, including kids under 12, who are yet not approved for their shots. “They are probably at higher risk this Labor Day compared to last year, because of the more contagious Delta variant,” she said. So it’s important to take the necessary preventative measures when it comes to children and their families.
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Like last year, outdoor gatherings remain the safest option for hanging out with family and friends. If located indoors, when mixing unvaccinated people of different households, masks and distancing guidelines are the simplest ways of keeping everyone safe.