RICHMOND, Va. -- With less than a week to go until Christmas, the countdown is on. People are flocking to crowded shopping centers to cross off last-minute holiday gifts before traveling and gathering with friends and family.
In Richmond's Carytown neighborhood Sunday, there were packed parking lots and busy sidewalks. The cold rain didn't stop people from hitting up their favorite local shops.
“Just some last-minute shopping," said Maddy Lamda. "My mom’s a big hippie, so I'm looking for crystals and that kind of stuff.”
Lamda said her mother isn't the only one she still needs to pick up presents for.
“I also have a younger brother to shop for, and he’s ten, so I have no idea what to get him," she said.
But her shopping struggles don't compare to some of her other Christmas concerns.
“I mean, omicron is scary," Lamda said.
The new coronavirus variant is spreading anything but holiday cheer. That's especially true for Lambda and her friend, Chelsea Brooks-Giles, who share a risk factor. They said they're both "double nervous" because they have asthma.
“I’m a little concerned about being with family," said Brooks-Giles.
Soon, she'll head to Atlanta to spend time with loved ones.
“I’m definitely going to wear my mask around them, because I don’t want to take any chances," Brooks-Giles said.
The latest COVID-19 modeling from UVA shows Virginia currently at the start of a winter surge in cases. A peak is expected mid-January.
Twenty-one of Virginia's 35 health districts are experiencing a surge which are mostly caused by the delta variant.
However, health experts believe the highly contagious omicron variant will impact the Commonwealth over the holidays and the strain is expected to peak in February. The CDC has said omicron is more easily spread than the previous variants, but it's unknown if it causes more severe illness.
While most doctors say you don't need to cancel your holiday plans at this point, Lamda and Brooks-Giles hope people celebrate safely.
“Get your booster, make sure you’re vaccinated," said Lambda.
“And please wear your mask," said Brooks-Giles. "I know it sucks, but it’s better than dying.”
Virginians age 5+ are eligible for COVID-19 vaccine. Pre-registration is no longer required, so go to Vaccine Finder to search for specific vaccines available near you or call 877-VAX-IN-VA (877-275-8343).
Have You Been Fully Vaccinated?
People are considered fully vaccinated:
- 2 weeks after their second dose in a 2-dose series, such as the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines, or
- 2 weeks after a single-dose vaccine, such as Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen vaccine
How to Protect Yourself and Others When You’ve Been Fully Vaccinated
COVID-19 vaccines are effective at protecting you from getting sick. Based on what we know about COVID-19 vaccines, people who have been fully vaccinated can start to do some things that they had stopped doing because of the pandemic.
We’re still learning how vaccines will affect the spread of COVID-19. After you’ve been fully vaccinated against COVID-19, you should keep taking precautions—like wearing a mask, staying 6 feet apart from others, and avoiding crowds and poorly ventilated spaces—in public places until we know more.
These recommendations can help you make decisions about daily activities after you are fully vaccinated. They are not intended for healthcare settings.