Will We See a Spike in COVID Cases Over the Holidays?

"I think we'll see a mini spike," predicted Dr. Daniel Kuritzkes of Brigham and Women's Hospital

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Around this time last year, there was a lot of talk about holiday precautions and what people should and shouldn't do to prevent the spread of COVID-19 while gathering with close family and friends.

After Thanksgiving, Massachusetts and some other states saw a substantial spike in cases as more people gathered in close quarters with people they hadn't seen for a long time.

But that was before the vaccine. Of course breakthrough cases are still possible, but should we expect to see a significant surge once again?

To get a sense for what to expect this holiday season, NBC10 Boston asked top Boston doctors Tuesday for their thoughts on the matter during the weekly series, "COVID Q&A."

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"I think personally I don't think that's going to make a huge difference," Dr. Shira Doron of Tufts Medical Center said. "If you think about a year ago at this time, people were following 'Safer at Home' guidelines and still many people were just interacting with their own households and Thanksgiving and the winter holidays as they approached were a time where they were thinking about breaking their personal rules, because the holidays are important, and gathering with other families -- and that was a big change."

"I think today, most people are already interacting with people outside their own household and people they might otherwise gather with on holidays," she added. "So I don't necessarily think we should expect a big change as a result of holiday gatherings on COVID numbers."

But Doron did add this caveat: "If there's one thing I know about COVID, it's that it surprises us at every turn."

Dr. Daniel Kuritzkes of Brigham and Women's Hospital said he was "a little less optimistic" than Doron.

"I think there are going to be people who gather where not everybody's vaccinated yet, families where people have different perspectives about vaccination and they're not eager to make an issue of it," he said. "And so they're going to get together and some of them may end up transmitting the virus."

"I think we'll see a mini spike," Kuritzkes said. "Not a huge surge, but I think we'll see a mini spike after Thanksgiving and Christmas this year for various reasons, and that's why if you're going to be traveling to visit people -- friends or family -- you need to know their circumstances and know the setting and take precautions accordingly."

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