VDH Officials doubling down on message to stay home during holiday season


PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) — State health officials are doubling down on their message to stay home during the holiday season.

The most wonderful time of the year looks a lot different this year and health officials hope you’ll skip the trip to grandma’s house and stay home to stay safe.

“The safest option is to stay at home,” said Dr. Vanessa Walker Harris, Virginia deputy secretary of Health and Human Resources. “It’s hard but it’s the best way to protect you and your family.”

She says case numbers are higher now than they were when the pandemic began.

“There are thousands more cases now than there were in the spring and Governor Northam recognized this and issued an announcement on new restrictions on the number of people allowed to gather,” said Harris.

The number of people allowed to gather is now 25, both indoors and outdoors.

“We know that the surge is caused because people are gathering with friends and family members who aren’t part of their household and that cooler temperatures are pushing us indoors — and that’s where the virus spreads more easily,” Dr. Walker Harris said.

For students returning from college campuses, health officials suggest minimizing risk for 14 days before leaving, limit interactions with family and friends when you first return home and wearing a mask — to start. You can find more recommendations for college students here.

Harris acknowledges that people are tired, but she says now is the time to stay vigilant.

“We were able to flatten the curve earlier this spring and we can do it again if people adhere to the restrictions,” she said. “Working together by leaning into the simple public health measures like washing your hands, wearing a mask, and keeping your distance, we can stop the spread of the virus.”

Hopefully, she says, if we do all of that we can gather together again next year.

Harris encourages people to connect virtually and start new traditions, like a recipe exchange or virtual game night.

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