Health officials recommend tips for safe Thanksgiving, holiday gatherings | Local

Linda Rider

With the first major holiday of the season next week, health officials are offering tips for staying safe from COVID-19 while gathering with loved ones or traveling.

Cowlitz County’s COVID-19 case rate is higher than it was this time last year, “which means it is important to continue taking steps to keep ourselves and our loved ones healthy,” said Dr. Steven Krager, county deputy health officer.

The county recorded 322 new COVID-19 cases per 100,000 people from Oct. 28 to Nov. 10, compared to about 282 new cases per 100,000 the same time last year.

Cowlitz County recorded 29 new confirmed cases Friday, bringing the total to 12,592 confirmed and 1,526 probable cases. The county had 254 COVID-19 deaths.

Unlike last year, health officials aren’t discouraging all in-person gatherings.

“There are many ways we can more safely enjoy our favorite traditions,” Krager said. “Getting vaccinated against COVID-19 if you’re age 5 years or older is a great start.”

Many health-care clinics and pharmacies offer the COVID-19 vaccines, including the pediatric doses for 5- to 11-year-olds and booster doses. People can find a location at

A health department report from October found COVID-19 rates and hospitalizations are lower among fully vaccinated residents.

As of Wednesday, 57.5{fe463f59fb70c5c01486843be1d66c13e664ed3ae921464fa884afebcc0ffe6c} of Cowlitz County residents had initiated vaccination and 52.9{fe463f59fb70c5c01486843be1d66c13e664ed3ae921464fa884afebcc0ffe6c} were fully vaccinated.

State COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations down; hospital officials encourage vaccines ahead of holidays

Local, state and federal health officials recommend people take precautions if gathering with others outside their household, especially if unvaccinated, including:

  • Wear a face mask indoors or in crowded spaces.
  • Avoid crowded, poorly ventilated spaces by gathering outside or opening windows if indoors.
  • Space out and limit close contact with people outside the household, especially people who are at high risk for severe COVID-19 or who are not fully vaccinated.

If gathering with multiple households, potentially from different parts of the country, people may consider avoiding crowded indoor spaces before traveling, or taking a test in advance of gathering even if they aren’t traveling, the Center for Disease Control recommends.

People hitting the road or skies should check their destination’s COVID-19 situation and watch for any additional restrictions.

Face masks are required in indoor areas of public transportation, including airplanes and airports.

People who are not fully vaccinated should get tested for COVID-19 before and after their trips, according to the CDC. After traveling, everyone should monitor for COVID-19 symptoms, which include cough, fever and shortness of breath.

Anyone who is sick or has COVID-19 symptoms should delay traveling, stay home and get tested.

Cowlitz County residents can order free rapid test kits at as part of the “Say Yes! COVID Test” program. Tests will arrive within seven days.

Health officials urge precautions ahead of holidays; free rapid tests available to Cowlitz County residents

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