LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – Dr. Jennifer Dillaha with the Department of Health says the omicron variant of COVID-19 has shown to be much more transmissible than previous variants. 

She adds the timing of its arrival to Arkansas could not have been worse.

“Look at what happened in the United Kingdom or South Africa.  The rate of spread was incredibly fast and for us here in Arkansas the timing is just really bad,” Dr. Dillaha said.

She suggests taking extra precautions when gathering for the holidays to limit the spread of COVID-19.

Dr. Dillaha says maintaining social distance when possible will help.  People can rearrange furniture to still utilize space and still be able to visit. 

She says wiping down areas after use is always helpful despite covid being more of an airborne virus.  Despite it not being popular wearing masks will help especially if there are relatives with immune issues.

“Many of us have older or elderly relatives that really need our company and our presence in their lives and if we’re going to do that, let’s keep them safe,” Dr. Dillaha explained.

Dr. Jose Romero also suggested if the concern is great enough in a family then folks should consider getting a covid test prior to traveling.

“Make sure that you’re not bringing just your dish to the get-together but that you’re not bringing Covid to the get-together,” Dr. Romero said.

Dr. Dillaha said gathering outdoors or opening windows to keep air flowing helps limit virus transmission and said it could be advantageous this holiday season for much of Arkansas.

But ultimately Dr. Dillaha recommends people be as up-to-date on covid shots and the flu shot as they can be by the time families come together.

“Looks like the 3 doses with that booster.  Two doses of the primary vaccination series and the booster are the most protective and that’s what we really want to encourage people to do,” Dr. Dillaha said.