The Omicron Variant
We were all hoping to put the Delta coronavirus wave behind us and enjoy the holiday season with loved ones this year. However, the World Health Organization (WHO) has recently designated the Omicron variant as an official “variant of concern.”
“We have seen a lot of variants pop up over the last five, six months, and most of them have not amounted to much. This looks different,” said Dr. Ashish Jha, dean of the Brown University School of Public Health. The Omicron variant has an unusually high number of mutations, with more than 30 mutations in the spike protein alone. When experts looked at other variants, it usually took several months for those strains to be dominant. “This one has become dominant very quickly in South Africa in the regions where it’s been found, within a matter of days to weeks, as opposed to months,” Jha said.
Experts say it may be weeks before they will know enough about the Omicron variant to assess how readily it spreads or whether it can evade existing vaccines. In the meantime, countries around the world have already imposed travel restrictions and new protocols. With so much uncertainty surrounding the Omicron variant, many families are now concerned about traveling and seeing loved ones. To help ensure you have a happy, healthy and safe holiday season, we have listed some alternative ways to celebrate this year.
Safe Holiday Activities to Consider
- Family Craft Night: You can decorate your own festive stockings to hang up or make homemade ornaments. This ornament recipe is simple and easy, and you can use cookie cutters to make holiday shapes! For all the pet lovers out there, you can cut a circle out with a cup and gently press your pet’s paw into the dough. Once baked and cooled, you can decorate these homemade ornaments anyway you like!
- Game Night: Break out old family favorites, classics, new board games, or even start a holiday puzzle you can work on throughout the week. Many local game stores will allow you to shop online, virtually or over the phone and have contactless curbside pickup for those wanting to try out new games! Some of Health Designs family favorites are Ticket to Ride and Qwirkle.
- Baking Day: Baking together is both a fun and safe holiday tradition, and so is decorating your baked goods together afterwards. Click here for a list of healthy holiday cookie recipes!
- Karaoke Night, Christmas Style: Sing all your favorite Christmas classics together to lift everyone’s mood and get your whole family into the Christmas spirit.
- Christmas Movie Marathon: Everyone in your family can pick their favorite holiday movie, write it down on a sticky note, fold it up and put it in a bowl. Draw one at a time to watch! You can watch them all in one day or watch one each night.
- Get Outside: Take a winter hike, go sledding, go ice skating at an outdoor rink that requires masks and social distancing, walk through your neighborhood and admire everyone’s holiday decorations, watch fireworks, etc.!
- Virtual Get-Togethers: Pick a date and time and send out Zoom invites so all your friends and family members can still feel connected. You can all bake, decorate cookies, or decorate the tree “together” and catch up during the process! You can also share everyone’s favorite holiday traditions, what they look forward to most next year and start talking about plans for next Christmas. It’s even possible to have a virtual game night! Click here for a list of games to play over Zoom.
From our family to yours, we wish you a fun and safe holiday!