A Guideline to Safe Holiday Celebrations
2020 has been a crazy year, full of challenges and uphill battles for many of us. To make matters even more intense, many of the traditions we know and love have changed this year, and holiday gatherings are no exception. When you are planning for the holidays, it is important to keep safety precautions in mind to protect your loved ones and help stop the spread of COVID-19. Below are some of the ways that the holidays will be different this year. It is important to keep these changes in mind as you make plans this season.
- The CDC warns against traveling during the COVID-19 pandemic, so visiting family members who live far away might not be a possibility.
- In April of 2020, the unemployment rate in the U.S. increased to 14.7%, the highest level since the Great Depression. Because of these financial hardships, many people might be unable to take time off around the holidays like they usually would. Healthcare workers are also dealing with increased pressure on the frontlines, so they might not be able to take time off either.
- During the holidays, it is custom for many families to host large gatherings and create treasured memories with loved ones. This year, due to COVID-19, the CDC has released guidelines that recommend restrictions for large gatherings, and many local governments are enforcing ordinances that restrict celebrations to one household as well. This is the most obvious difference, and the one that sets the holidays of 2020 so far apart from previous years.
Holiday Safety Tips to Protect Loved Ones from COVID-19
Remember that any time you gather with people who do not live with you, even if you are at a personal residence, the risk of getting COVID-19 increases for everyone there. This is especially dangerous for attendees who are older, are immunocompromised, or have underlying health issues that put them further at risk. If you do choose to attend a holiday gathering, there are some ways you can mitigate the risk of spreading the virus, but these are simply precautionary and do not guarantee safety. These precautions include:
- Keep the gathering small
Gathering with only those who live in your household is the safest way to celebrate this holiday. If you do gather with those who live outside your home, it is best to keep it as small as possible to help protect your loved ones.
- Practice social distancing
To practice social distancing, stay at least six feet apart from others in both indoor and outdoor spaces.
- Wear a mask
Wearing cloth masks can help prevent people who have COVID-19 from spreading the virus. This is vital because some infected individuals are asymptomatic, and wearing a mask can stop them from spreading the virus they might not even know they have. The mask should fit snugly but comfortably against the side of the face, completely cover the nose and mouth, and be secured with ties.
- Gather outdoors if possible
Immunologists and medical professionals who study the spread of the virus have determined that outdoor gatherings are safer than indoor ones. A Japanese study of 100 cases also found that the odds of catching COVID-19 are nearly 20 times higher indoors than outdoors.
- Wash hands often and disinfect surfaces
You should wash your hands regularly every day, but it is especially important if you choose to attend a gathering. Wash the front of your hands, back of your hands, and underneath your fingernails for at least 20 seconds with an alcohol-based hand sanitizer. The best times to wash your hands are before, during, and after preparing food. To disinfect surfaces, use an EPA-approved disinfectant frequently on any surfaces that are commonly being touched.
Ways to Participate in Low-risk Holiday Activities
The holidays might be different this year, but that doesn’t mean they have to be boring. There are plenty of low-risk holiday activities you can do to bond with loved ones and protect them at the same time. Here are some ways you can celebrate the holidays while minimizing the risk of spreading COVID-19:
- Have dinner at home with the people who live with you.
- Deliver home-cooked meals to family and neighbors, especially those who are at a higher risk of developing complications from COVID-19. Delivering the meals without contact is the safest way to do so.
- Gather virtually with friends and family. For example, if you usually have dinner with families of multiple households, you can plan to eat dinner in your own homes at the same time and video chat during the meal. You could also plan a virtual movie night or virtual holiday craft night with friends and family.
- Shop virtually rather than at in-person sales in stores. Many stores offer the same sales online and even offer exclusive online deals. By doing this, you can still brighten your loved ones’ year with the perfect gifts without coming into contact with other shoppers.
- Go for a walk around the neighborhood with the other members of your household to see the holiday lights and decorations. This is a great way to get the taste of holiday cheer you might be missing this year.
When available, Advance ER provides rapid COVID-19 testing with same-day results, giving priority to patients with COVID-19 symptoms. To get tested for COVID-19 at one of our centers in Park Cities or Galleria, please register online or call us at (214) 494-8222.