Doctors ask people to ring in new year safely after COVID-19 crashed many holiday gatherings

NOW: Doctors ask people to ring in new year safely after COVID-19 crashed many holiday gatherings

MILWAUKEE (CBS 58)-- Doctors say it is possible to ring in the new year safely after COVID-19 crashed many holiday gatherings.

As people prepare to leave 2021 behind, there are a few things doctors want them to take into 2022.

"If we take our safety measures, hopefully we can still have a safe and happy holiday season," Aurora Health Care Infectious Disease Specialist Dr. Minhaj Husain said.

Those safety measures include limiting the number of people at gatherings, wearing masks and staying home when sick.

"We don't want to be the Grinch. We don't want to take away people's fun," Husain said. "We also want people to be cognizant that there is a very transmissible variant out there."

Husain predicts it could be weeks or even months before this surge of COVID-19 reaches its peak.

Froedtert & the Medical College of Wisconsin Infectious Disease Specialist Dr. Mary Beth Graham said more than 75% of cases tested at Froedtert are consistent with the omicron variant.

"The majority of what we're seeing is omicron, and our hospitalizations now are as high or higher than they've been in the past year," Dr. Graham said.

Doctors said omicron is more contagious than past variants, but not necessarily less severe like some believe.

Graham worries about her colleagues staying healthy as hospitalizations grow.

"Because it's spreading so quickly, what do we do about our workforce?" Graham said she asks herself.

She said Froedtert has contingency plans for times when staff call out sick.

Graham said omicron is changing treatment options for COVID-19 patients.

"The Lilly product, BAME, and the Regeneron product, Regen-CoV, currently are on pause nationwide because they do not work against omicron," Graham said.

Graham suggests wearing both a surgical and a cloth mask together. She said they offer better protection together than alone.

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