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Experts say holiday travel, gatherings still safe despite rise in cases

Posted at 9:15 PM, Dec 17, 2021

TAMPA, Fla — As Omicron cases rise, we're seeing headliners pull out of major concerts, major sporting events postponed and NFL availability change from in-person to virtual.

It's enough change to cause people to think twice about holiday travel and holiday plans in general.

FGCU Economics professor Victor Claar says the hesitancy makes sense because we're still learning about this new variant.

"Anytime there's uncertainty, people put off decisions they would otherwise make," he said.

But, while these decisions may have a minor economic impact in the short term, Claar says he doesn't think we'll return to where we were at the start of the pandemic.

"Individuals are in a much better position to choose for themselves and assess risk and decide what to do and how to do it and how careful to be and I think that's really, really encouraging," he said.

It's a sentiment FGCU infectious disease expert Robert Hawkes can agree with.

He says early information shows that the omicron variant is more contagious, but appears to be milder.

"The severity of the symptoms seem to be less than some of the variants and we've seen, specifically the delta variant," he said.

Whether you're traveling or not, he says you need to continue to wash your hands stay home if you're sick, and get vaccinated.

"If you've received your vaccine and you're eligible for the booster, that's the most important thing you can do," he said.

With those things in mind, he says people should still be able to enjoy the holidays with others while remaining safe.

"We're not at the point where people show not take this time and celebrate the holidays with family and friends. They should, they just need to be careful," he said.