Fil-Am doctor cautions against large gatherings ahead of flu, holiday season

Seasonal flu shots are recommended for everyone ages 6 months and older, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. | Image: © AZP Worldwide | Shutterstock

Heading into the last week of October, Los Angeles County reached the milestone of 7,000 confirmed COVID-19 deaths and 300,614 positive cases.

On Monday, October 26, the LA County Department of Public Health confirmed eight new deaths and 861 new cases of COVID-19.

Since the beginning of the month, cases have increased from around 940 new cases per day to, as of last week, almost 1,200 new cases per day. This increase, while not as steep as seen in July, is cause for concern.

To prevent the future spread of COVID-19, Filipina American Dr. Jasmine Eugenio, a pediatrics specialist at Martin Luther King Jr. Outpatient Center, reminded the community to minimize contact with non-household members, especially as the holiday season approaches.

“Whether it’s Halloween or especially for Filipinos, Christmas is important to have the whole family there, unless you actually live with them, it’s not a good idea to have any gatherings with people that are outside of your home,” Eugenio told the Asian Journal.

With Halloween this Saturday, October 31, the Health Officer Order prohibits large-scale gatherings like carnivals, festivals and haunted house attractions. Door-to-door trick or treating is not recommended. Meanwhile, the health department advises in favor of online parties, car parades, drive-in theaters, or outdoor meals.

While the optimal situation is celebrating solely at home with one’s household, those who host or attend a private gathering must follow public health protocols, such as: physical distancing outdoors, limit to three households and wearing cloth face coverings when not eating.

Eugenio also warned about a possible “twindemic” as flu season begins to not overwhelm the health care system.

“The problem with having both is that they can co-exist in one patient — that doesn’t mean that if you get COVID, you’re not going to get the flu. You can get both at the same time,” Eugenio said. “COVID and flu are spread the same way as respiratory illness. While there’s no vaccine for COVID yet, it’s important to get a flu vaccine.”

She also reminded the community to continue to observe measures like wearing a mask and frequently washing hands.

She added, “It can be overwhelming but we have to remain very vigilant to make sure we protect ourselves and our loved ones. We have loved ones who can get infected if we are not careful.”

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