NMDOH tips to reduce respiratory disease

SANTA FE, NM (KRQE) – The New Mexico Department of Health and Human Services is now urging New Mexicans to take precautionary measures during the holiday season. The precautionary measures are designed to protect young children, the elderly and those with underlying medical conditions from respiratory viruses such as RSV, flu and COVID-19.

Area hospitals have activated emergency surgeries as they experience a rise in childhood illnesses. “People can take simple steps to avoid exposure as we all look forward to gathering with friends and family this holiday season,” said David R. Sccrase MD, acting cabinet secretary for the Department of Health. “I encourage all New Mexicans to take common sense measures that we know are effective in reducing the spread of respiratory disease. Stay up to date on vaccines, including COVID-19 boosters and flu shots, wash your hands, stay home if you are sick and get treatment from your GP.”

RSV, flu, and COVID-19 can be especially dangerous for young children, older New Mexicans, and people with underlying medical conditions.

Here are some tips from the New Mexico Department of Health and Human Services to stay healthy and avoid unnecessary hospital visits during the holidays:

  • Get the flu shot and stay up to date on COVID-19 vaccinations, including Omicron booster shots.
  • There is no vaccine or treatment for RSV, but people can protect themselves by covering coughs and sneezes, cleaning frequently touched services, and washing their hands regularly with soap and water or using hand sanitizer.
  • Anyone at risk of becoming seriously ill from RSV should consider wearing a mask indoors with people who are not in their household.
  • Test before you turkey. Taking a test on Thanksgiving Day can help anyone get rid of some COVID anxiety.
  • If you are sick, stay at home. If you test positive or don’t test but have symptoms that look like COVID, you should stay home to avoid making someone else sick. Consider signing up for Zoom or Facetime if you’re feeling good enough.
  • Watch out for new symptoms. The most commonly reported symptoms of the Omicron variant were a sore throat, congestion (runny, stuffy nose), cough, fatigue, headache, and muscle aches. If you develop these, do a test. Ventilate your room. This advice still applies after more than two years of the pandemic. Outdoors is best. Heat lamps, fire pits, and warm layers can help make outdoor celebrations cozy and comfortable. If that’s not for your group, open the windows—even a little keeps the air circulating. HEPA filters can also help capture some of the virus particles that might be in the air, keeping you safer.
  • Mask when traveling. Wear a good quality (K95 or KN95), well-fitting mask when traveling.