Dr. Rai’s advice for gathering for the holidays

Published: Dec. 14, 2021 at 7:17 AM CST
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GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) - If you’re sick, don’t go to that holiday gathering. That’s the message from Prevea Health President and CEO Dr. Ashok Rai.

“The number one rule is if you have symptoms, stay home. Get tested, but if you’re symptomatic, don’t make other people sick,” Dr. Rai said during a visit to Action 2 News This Morning.

Dr. Rai also discussed the latest on the omicron variant and our COVID-19 situation.


“We started to have a good trend for a few days. We were trending down over the weekend even Monday. Sometimes the numbers are lagging. Unfortunately, the last 24 hours we’ve seen those inpatient cases go right back up, our percent positivity go right back up. So we’re still in that really high area, that high-risk area, where we’re seeing a lot of disease transmission and a lot of hospitalization, unfortunately.”


“Too early to tell right now. I think the things we’re starting to see is, it’s high transmissible. But how does it compete against Delta? We really don’t know that yet. We have to look at some of that European study. We have to kind of just be patient and understand that. And we have to see what it’s doing in the United States. The Wisconsin DHS still reports that for us, Delta is the variant for concern. It’s the predominant one. It’s where we should be focused. We’re going to see where omicron is. There are some early reports--really early reports--that it causes mild illness. But we really don’t know where that is across that age population, so too early to tell right now.

“What we do know about it, and what we do know about Delta, and we’ve seen this in the lab and the real world, is that if you’re vaccinated and boosted you have a good chance of staying healthy despite the variant being there.”


“As we head into the holidays, we want everybody to gather together safely. The number one rule is if you have symptoms, stay home. Get tested, but if you’re symptomatic, don’t make other people sick. Right around the holidays, we always see this peak of cases after. We saw it after Thanksgiving, I think we’re still seeing that right now. We don’t want Christmas layered on top of that. The biggest reason is because of smaller gatherings where somebody was sick and got other people sick. If you have symptoms, spare your family that pain. Stay home.

“One of the most important things you can do going into the holidays is get tested. Even if you don’t have symptoms but you have a large gathering or you’re around people who could get sick, such as your grandparents, it’s not a bad idea to get tested before you gather. The gold standard is still a PCR test. That’s going to pick up even if you’re not symptomatic. But if you’re symptomatic, that antigen home test is really good. That antigen home test could also be used prior to gathering, but not just the day of. You’re going to want one maybe 48-to-72 hours before and then another one--two of those in sequence spread out a couple days is a lot more reliable. It’s important to understand number one, if you have symptoms and you do one of those home tests and it’s negative you still need to get a PCR test. If you turn positive, make sure you talk to your physician. With at-home testing there’s a good part about it, we can get people to know they’re positive right away, but if they have risk factors, if they could get sicker and wind up hospitalized, we have things we can do if we get to them soon enough, such as monoclonal antibody infusions, being able to give that to them, but we won’t know that because they’re not getting tested by us, they’re getting tested at home, so it’s really, really important that they inform their physician if they’re positive, and if they still have symptoms and they’re negative that they go and get that PCR test.”


“I think some people have forgotten what to do when you’re positive, or not forgotten but maybe we’ve let down our guard. ‘I feel great. I’m positive but I feel great, I can go out and gather with my family.’ No. It’s still 10 days of isolation. Even if you feel great, you still are spreading the virus if you’re positive. Some employers have even started to say, ‘come on in, I need the help.’ What you’re doing is you’re putting everybody else at risk. So when somebody is positive, it is 10 days of isolation. That means isolating away from your family in your house, too, so you’re preventing that spread. You shouldn’t drop that down to seven days or six days because you feel good. You’re still spreading the virus.”


“Still really early. We’re going to see what the numbers look like. It looks very good, but I think what’s really important with this treatment, it needs to be given very early, so our testing infrastructure needs to be really good, even with those home testing, how to let your doctor know, you need it within three days. People who were at-risk, it really prevented hospitalization and death, we have to see where those people who are maybe not as high risk, what it does for them. That data is still in review. We’ll see what the FDA says.”

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