The long, forlorn days of COVID lockdowns are hopefully well behind us, but pesky viruses are very much still around. Here’s a few great tips to stay healthy this Thanksgiving during in-person family gatherings.

This fall and winter season has been a haze of freakish weather patterns that seemingly force you to don a tank top in the sun and a goose down in the shade. Not only are these fluctuations super annoying, but this time of year can leave New Yorkers vulnerable to viruses like COVID-19, influenza, and Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV). These illnesses can potentially spread around the dinner table if people aren’t mindful.

It’s important to remember to wash your hands often and use hand sanitizer when needed, wipe down surfaces that family members and friends will frequently touch like countertops and doorknobs, ventilate stuffy areas by cracking windows, sanitize dishes, wash linens that guests use, have tissues or masks on hand, and politely ask people that are already sick to stay home, said 

“This is the first fall virus season when vaccines for COVID-19, RSV and flu are available — which are the conditions that typically keep our emergency rooms busy in the fall and winter,” said New York City Health Commissioner Dr. Ashwin Vasan in a statement. “This year we have all of the tools we need to get through this viral season healthy and well.” 

RELATED: New COVID-19 variant HV.1 emerges as dominant strain in the U.S.

According to the city’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) data from October 15-21, there was a “26% increase” in flu occurrences, including influenza A and B, from the previous week. And at least a 53% increase of RSV. 

In addition, as of Monday, Nov. 13, the DOH’s COVID tracker reported an average of 270 daily cases, 20 daily hospitalizations, and two total deaths in the last seven days.
Vasan said the updated COVID-19 vaccines are designed to protect against currently circulating variants and provide a boost to people’s immune systems. 

The health department said that updated 2023-2024 COVID-19 vaccines will be accessible at pharmacies and clinics with most insurance. It’s especially recommended for those 65 or older, pregnant people, and people with underlying health conditions and disabilities.

You can find vaccine locations on the
Ariama C. Long is a Report for America corps member and writes about politics for the Amsterdam News. Your donation to match our RFA grant helps keep her writing stories like this one; please consider making a tax-deductible gift of any amount today by visiting

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