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Gatherings outside of immediate households pose biggest risk for COVID-19

Dr. David Persse said 40 percent of the people who are infected with the virus have no symptoms but are spreading it.

HOUSTON — The city of Houston’s message on COVID-19 safety heading into the holidays is clear: avoid mass gatherings.

This comes as the positivity rate in Houston hovers just below 8 percent.

Heading into the holidays when the need to socialize with friends and family is bigger than ever Dr. David Persse, chief medical officer for the city of Houston, said there’s a rule of thumb everyone should follow.

“Outdoors is better than indoors, small is better than large, wearing masks is better than not wearing masks,” Dr. Persse said.

He said every family needs to balance these things when planning a gathering to ensure they’re not putting people at risk of getting sick with COVID-19.

“Then you probably really need to have it to that household unit that usually lives in that household and not have people from other households joining,” Dr. Persse said.

Keep in mind, he said, 40 percent of the people who are infected with the virus have no symptoms but are spreading it.

“That’s the problem,” he said. “You can have somebody over. They look totally fine. They feel totally fine, and they could be completely contagious.”

Dr. Persse said there’s no way to know who that may be. He said teens and people between 20 and 40 years old are contributing the most to new cases.

“Now we’re starting to see the numbers creep back up again. We have to change our behaviors, drive that number down, and that will make thanksgiving and Christmas and New Year’s safer,” Dr. Persse said.