State and Territorial Health Officials Urge Americans to Help Stop Delta and Omicron’s Spread

December 14, 2021

ARLINGTON, VA—Michael Fraser, chief executive officer of the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials (ASTHO) issued the following statement in advance of the holiday season.

“As the Delta variant continues its rapid spread in the U.S., state and territorial health leaders are becoming increasingly concerned about emerging data from Europe and South Africa that indicate the omicron variant may be even more transmissible. Hospital capacity is already at a breaking point in many states because of severe cases of COVID-19.

“As Americans enjoy the holiday season, it is important that we all work together to manage our individual risk, reduce transmission, and preserve hospital capacity. State and territorial health officials urge Americans to take five simple steps to travel smart and keep ourselves, our loved ones, and our communities safe:

  1. All eligible, unvaccinated people should get vaccinated immediately. Data suggest that the vaccine is protective against severe disease caused by the Delta, and potentially Omicron, variants.
  2. All eligible, fully vaccinated people should get a booster. Because the protection vaccine confers has been found to wane over time, a booster will help prevent severe disease and help keep hospital beds open for those who may need them.
  3. Wear a mask in all indoor settings to help limit the transmission of the virus to others. Individuals should also hold events outside whenever possible, and improve ventilation in spaces where people may be gathering.
  4. Get tested before congregating, even if you feel well, to make sure you are not unknowingly transmitting the virus to others.
  5. Travel smart—wear a mask, get tested before traveling, and make sure you are up-to-date on your COVID-19 and flu vaccinations before you leave. This will help protect you from serious disease and from potentially transmitting the disease to others.

“The goal is for all Americans to maximize healthy behaviors to live safely now and in the immediate future. We all want to celebrate so let’s celebrate the holidays safely and help protect ourselves and others while we enjoy those things that bring us together this time of year,” said Fraser.

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ASTHO is the national nonprofit organization representing the public health agencies of the United States, the U.S. territories and Freely Associated States, and Washington, D.C., as well as the more than 100,000 public health professionals these agencies employ. ASTHO members, the chief health officials of these jurisdictions, are dedicated to formulating and influencing sound public health policy and to ensuring excellence in public health practice.