‘It’s not a time for us to relax’: Cone Health expert suggests testing, vaccination as part of holiday gathering plans


(WGHP) — Despite declining hospitalizations across several hospital systems in the Triad, Dr. Cynthia Snider warns of a post-holiday increase in COVID-19 cases. 

“Just because the rates of COVID in our community is trending down, it’s still at a high level, so it’s not a time for us to relax,” the medical director of infection prevention said Monday. 

The health system reports that 58 patients are hospitalized with COVID-19. The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services reports 255 patients statewide. 

According to a Novant Health spokesperson, the system has about 100 to 150 COVID patients in total, which is a decrease from about 450 to 500 patients in September. 

“We have a little bit more reprieve in a sense that there is more capacity to care for ICU patients,” Snider said. 

She said people delayed their care because of the pandemic, meaning longer hospital stays now.

“We’ve seen people who have respiratory problems from a bad cold that’s not COVID that still needs to fine-tune their underlying lung disease. Unfortunately, we’ve seen a lot of people who delay their cancer screening and have advanced cancer that could have been treated like six months or even a year before,” she said. 

Snider says fewer people are getting flu shots, and that could keep hospitals busy in the coming months.  

“We can’t let our guards down, especially it makes an incredible amount of sense to continue masking for indoor activities,” she said. 

Before finalizing holiday plans, she asks families to consider antigen testing for out-of-town relatives. 

“I think we can have a semi-normal Christmas with your family, especially if family are coming to travel. Again, I think that testing aspect of it, and maybe reconsider if someone is unvaccinated and coming from an area that has…a high endemic rate,” she said. 

Cone Health and the Guilford County Public Health Department have not seen a significant increase in vaccinations ahead of the holidays yet. 

A Novant Health spokesperson said the system is experiencing an increase with people getting boosters and 5 to 11-year-olds are getting vaccinated.  

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