WALNUT CREEK, Calif. (KGO) -- It's going to be the third holiday season we've had to deal with COVID, but this time it's different, the rules have changed.
"What's really different about this holiday season from the last two during COVID is that the responsibility is much more on us as individuals. We don't have the rules passed down from the government," U.C. Berkeley epidemiologist Dr. John Swartberg.
Contra Costa Health Services says they've already got 40 people hospitalized this week with COVID. They are starting to distribute free test kits by mail, making them the first county in the Bay Area to do so, so far.
"The test kits are available now- people can go online or call our 800 number and request up to four test kits. Each test kit has two tests in it so it's really eight tests you'd be getting in the mail from the county. You have to be a resident of Contra Costa County," said Contra Costa Public Health Director Dr. Ori Tzvieli.
Public libraries across the county are also passing out free test kits. It's a reminder you can get COVID a second or third time. Tests should be used if you have even a runny nose.
The mantra is the same, get boosted, if you can't find a booster at your local pharmacy, check county websites. Oakland Unified announced Tuesday they are now offering school vaccine clinics.
Wearing a mask is optional but may provide tremendous protection as cases tick up.
"You may think 'oh I don't live with anyone at risk.' But maybe your friend or colleague at work does live with someone at risk. You don't want to be that link in the chain of transmission. Whatever you can do to prevent that is a kind and responsible thing to do," Dr. Tzvieli.