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With the holiday season upon us, Upstate faculty issue letter to community urging greater vigilance to stem rise in COVID cases

In a Nov. 22 letter to the Central New York community, a group of Upstate Medical University physicians and faculty are urging greater vigilance to fight the spread of COVID-19.

“Our unequivocal recommendation is for everyone to get vaccinated and to keep their mask on when in public. We also encourage you to use other tools such as hand washing, respiratory etiquette and physical distancing to give your further protection. These measures will help protect you and your loved ones from contracting this deadly disease,” write the letter authors.

The letter comes as families and friends are expected to gather indoors for holiday celebrations which may lead to significant spread of COVID.

The authors say that COVID cases are still circulating in the community and “dramatically rising” with more cases in the community than at this time last year.

The reason for the increase in COVID, the authors say is:

—there is still a large group of unvaccinated individuals in the area.

—people have stopped themselves from COVID

—new spikes in COVID will increase as we move indoors in less-ventilated spaces.

— Covid remains highly transmissible and continues to cause serious disease in some people. The current Covid strain is more contagious than other viruses like Ebola, common cold, flu, and smallpox.

The authors urge the following steps to stem the spread of COVID:

—get vaccinated. Still about 1 in 3 people in our county are not yet vaccinated.

—cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze, or use the inside of your elbow. Throw used tissues in the trash.

—wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water is not available, clean your hands with hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.

—wear a mask in crowded indoor settings and for activities with close contact with others who are not fully vaccinated and/or their vaccination status is unknown.

—when possible, practice physical distancing—stay at least six feet away from others in public places.

—get tested. It is still important for people sick with Covid to isolate.

“Our unequivocal recommendation is for everyone to get vaccinated and to keep their mask on when in public,” the letter concludes.

The letter is signed by faculty from the following departments: Geriatrics, Infection Prevention, Medicine, Microbiology and Immunology, Pediatrics, Public Health and Preventive Medicine.