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COVID-19 levels remain low, according to recent county metrics — but health officials are still advising people to be vigilant in the coming weeks, as holiday gatherings occur and the risk of illnesses increase at indoor events.

According to the weekly county Department of Health and Human Services’ pulse report, COVID-19 levels have not seen a spike. As of Nov. 30, there are 80.99 COVID cases per 100,000 residents in the past seven days, and 6.53 COVID-19 hospital admissions per 100,000 residents, over a seven-day period. And 7.47% of inpatient beds in county hospitals are filled with COVID-19 patients, according to the report.

Cases are starting to trend up compared to a month ago, but hospitalizations have remained around the current metrics, according to the county’s COVID-19 dashboard

The flu is a different story. Flu numbers are tracked at the state level. For the most recent data, which ended Nov. 26, “overall respiratory illness in Maryland was very high,” according to the Maryland Department of Health. 

“The proportion of visits to Maryland sentinel outpatient providers that were for respiratory illness was 7.3%, which is above the Maryland baseline of 2.1%,” the state department of health adds.

In order to prepare for the upcoming holidays and potential illness, the county’s Department of Health and Human Services offers the following tips:

  • Make a plan if you are going to visit high-risk family members. That means discussing with other family members about getting tested for the coronavirus, being up-to-date on all vaccinations and moving meals/activities outdoors if the weather allows.
  • Get the new bivalent COVID-19 booster. Anyone over five-years-old can get the booster, offered by Pfizer and Moderna through the county and at private clinics.  
  • Pay attention to symptoms. COVID-19 symptoms include: sore throat, congestion, coughing, fatigue, headaches and muscle pain. Those infected with BA.5, the dominant variant, are less likely to report losing their sense of taste and smell, officials say. 
  • Test for COVID-19, including a rapid test right before a family gathering. Consider staying away from crowds right before traveling and masking up on public transportation and in crowded public spaces.
  • Ventilate your space to prevent viruses from lingering in indoor spaces.
  • Get vaccinated against the flu. Cough or sneeze into your sleeve to prevent any potential illness from spreading. 
  • If you’re sick, stay home.