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Expert Tips For Safe Holidays Gatherings Amid Latest COVID Surge

MONTCLAIR, N.J. (CBSNewYork) -- The recent surge in COVID cases has many wondering if they should limit holiday plans once again.

CBS2's Nick Caloway spoke with experts about how to safely spend time with family this year.

Long lines are the new normal outside COVID testing sites in New York City and the suburbs. With a week to go until Christmas, this year's must-have gift is a clean bill of health.

"We have older, my parents, my grandparents. So I'm not trying to expose anybody," said Neethu James, a resident of Bloomfield, New Jersey.

In the middle of another wave of infections, many are just hoping to avoid getting COVID for Christmas.

"Everybody's boosted, and we're just being careful and wearing masks and hoping for the best," said Meghan Labote, another New Jersey resident.

"We feel like we've been pretty safe. No one has it. We all are vaccinated, boosted up. So, business as usual as of now," said Sheila Banks.

"We're all vaccinated, we all have the boosters and we're all being tested before we go," said Renee Raskin of Montclair, New Jersey. "It's a very small gathering."

Experts say getting together with loved ones can be very safe, if you're smart about it.

"A few people is less risky than a ton of people," said Dr. Dan Varga, chief physician executive at Hackensack Meridian Health. "Being with vaccinated people is a lot less risky than being with unvaccinated people, when you can know that. Really good risk profile? Being in a room with people who have just tested negative is really low-risk compared to, I don't know."

Holiday travel shows no signs of slowing down, despite the variants. CBS News Travel Editor Peter Greenberg said airlines are running 94-95% full.

"We're adjusting, we're going to wear our masks. We're going to get our vaccinations and our booster shots, and we're going," Greenberg said.

Medical experts say at-home COVID tests are good to have when traveling for the holidays, although they can be expensive and hard to find.

CBS2's Nick Caloway contributed to this report.

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