By Mekialaya White

DENVER (CBS4) — The COVID-19 Omicron variant has arrived in Colorado, and it’s on the minds of many right now. With that, concerns are rising over how to safely navigate the holidays.

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UCHealth Senior Medical Director of Infection Prevention and Control Dr. Michelle Barron offered up her best advice on how to do so.

“I understand we’re all pent up and want to do things in a ‘normal’ way,’” she told CBS4’s Mekialaya White.

But Barron says now is not the time to let your guard down.

“(Omicron) is even more infectious than Delta. We talked about Delta being more infectious than Alpha, Alpha being more infectious than the original. This is potentially five times more infectious than Delta, so it will spread like wildfire,” said Barron.

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With that in mind, she urges vaccination, first and foremost.

“It really is advisable that everybody be vaccinated and boosted for ultimate protection.”

She says this year, like last, may require some difficult decisions with regards to gathering together. And don’t take any developing symptoms lightly, even if they’re mild.

“The longer you are with someone and the closer you are the more likely they’re going to get sick. Anybody with any symptoms of any kind, runny nose, sore throat, headache, get a test and do not show up.“

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She added, “Most colds right now are still probably Omicron or one of the variants. There are other things circulating, but they are things you don’t want to spread.”

Dr. Barron says it’s not worth it to lose that chance to see a loved one again.

“On the flip side, if you feel great, you’ve done all the right things, enjoy your holiday. I think it’s still something we can do, we can do it safely but you want to be thoughtful. Even with these layers of protection, there are individuals within our family and friends that are still vulnerable.”

Mekialaya White