'Delay our gatherings': Stanford doctor urges people to take omicron seriously ahead of holidays

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- The omicron variant arrived just in time for one of the busiest travel weekends and weeks of the year, keeping local health care professionals concerned.

"This is the moment to tighten our efforts," Dr. Jorge Salinas said.

Dr. Salinas, hospital epidemiologist at Stanford University, says the risks of the variant have him encouraging everyone to reconsider traveling this holiday season.

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"It transmits so well that it produces explosive outbreaks," Dr. Salinas said, "When it enters a gathering, it can affect everybody at the gathering."

Though he's discouraging travel, Dr. Salinas says if you have to gather, there are safer ways to go about it. This includes testing beforehand, making sure you're vaccinated and boosted and that the others you'll be with are too.

"If you're going to gather in an indoor space, try to do it in a well-ventilated space," Dr. Salinas said, "Open doors and windows, try to have few people in the gathering, wear masks if you can."

Tips Dr. Salinas says most are already familiar with, he says that moving forward we're likely going to have to come back to these measures if and when the need arises.

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"Sometimes we need to go full court press, sometimes we have to relax," Dr. Salinas said, "People see that as mixed messages or inconsistent messaging and we just need to know that the messaging has to be tailored to the moment."

He says that familiarity with the safety measures along with vaccines and boosters can be the most important weapon in protecting against the omicron variant.

"The good news is that we know how to how to tackle it," Dr. Salinas said, "We just need to have delayed gratification, delay our gatherings for the holidays, or modify them and know that in a month or two we will be able to begin relaxing again."

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