By Kate Raddatz

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – Thanksgiving is just over a week away, and it comes at a time when Minnesota is fighting one of the worst surges of COVID-19 infections in the country. Now, health officials are asking people to think twice about their holiday plans.

Minnesota is in the middle of a COVID-19 case surge, as breakthrough infections have also gone up.

“A lot of people were able to get vaccinated, you felt like ‘alright now I can do anything,’ I think we need to take a step back from that,” said Dr. Priya Sampathkumar, a Mayo Clinic Infectious Disease Specialist.

Experts agree the best way to protect yourself this holiday season is to get the vaccine, and a booster if you’re eligible. But it also means wearing a mask when you’re not eating, regardless of vaccination status.

“When you’re grocery shopping, if you’re wearing a mask in the store that will reduce risk that you might pick up COVID,” said Sampathkumar.

Being outdoors might not be possible in November in Minnesota. But MDH infectious disease expert Kris Ehresmann says any additional ventilation helps and you can dress accordingly.

“If you’re able to open a window and increase ventilation that’s wonderful,” she said.

The Center for Disease Control still recommends people delay travel until they’re fully vaccinated. But if you will be traveling, health experts suggest you lay low the week prior and take advantage of the state’s testing options.

“I think it’s important in these times you’ve had conversations so that everyone is on the same page and everyone feels comfortable with the decisions that you’re making for the gathering,” said Ehresmann.

Health officials say you should also get your flu shot ahead of gathering this holiday season. Right now, 96% of the state’s ICU beds are in use.

Kate Raddatz