I have many friends and family that tested positive for covid in the US the past couple of weeks. They stayed cautious the entire pandemic, but are getting covid now probably due to the extreme transmissibility of the Omicron variant. One friend thinks she got it at the dentist. Another thinks he got it at an indoor restaurant that required proof of vaccination for entry. This makes me very cautious about socializing because I want to protect my parents and other older relatives that we’ll be seeing while we’re in the US.

We were so happy to finally be able to visit family and friends in the US after more than 18 months of the pandemic. We waited until we were fully vaccinated to travel, which didn’t happen until this past October. Once we arrived in the US, we felt relatively safe because of a high local vaccination rate and access to better healthcare than what was available on our island. And vaccines for kids 5-11 were approved a week after we arrived, so Charlie and Olive were able to get vaccinated too! But Omicron is changing everything. We had a record breaking number of positive cases today in the US. My brother and his wife were supposed to host Christmas dinner, but they started having cold-like symptoms on Christmas Eve so dinner was canceled, and they’re still waiting for their rt-pcr results now. Everyone I know that caught covid in recent weeks is under 50 years of age, with many young children testing positive. Luckily everyone was fully vaccinated so they have had relatively mild cold-like symptoms. While the current data shows that Omicron may be less severe than Delta, there isn’t much data yet on how it affects older people.

We’ve been here two months and have another month before we return to the Philippines. For the most part we’ve stuck to outdoor activities like hiking, and even then we wear masks unless there is absolutely no one else around. We’ve only met two friends so far — we stayed masked outdoors the first time, and the second time we had lunch with someone who lives alone and had been quarantining. I had plans to meet up with lots of friends, even ones that weren’t vaccinated, but with Omicron I’m much more reluctant to do so. I’m not worried so much for my immediate family; we’re all in good health with no underlying conditions, we’re all fully vaccinated, and we’d most likely have mild symptoms if we did catch covid. But my parents are my priority and I can forgo socializing in an abundance of caution to protect them.

Has your reaction to dealing with covid changed with Omicron? Are you changing socializing plans over the holidays?