Holidays: Better Safe than COVID

With the holidays fast approaching, we want to share recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for gatherings with family and friends amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

The following general considerations were made in a bid to slow down the spread of the virus. The CDC, however, stressed that these guidelines are meant to supplement, and not replace local health and safety regulations.

Hosting or Attending Gatherings

  • Check the COVID-19 infection rates in the location, as well as the areas where attendees are coming from.
  • Limit the number of guests and practice social distancing (at least six feet apart) at all times.
  • Have a small outdoor gathering and require guests to wear and safely store masks when not eating or drinking.
  • When celebrating indoors, open the windows and doors.
  • Encourage attendees to wash their hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
  • Clean and disinfect commonly touched surfaces and shared items in between use.
  • Ask guests to avoid contact with people outside their households for two weeks before the gathering.

Food and Drinks

  • Avoid potluck-style gatherings. Have guests bring their own food and drink instead.
  • Limit the number of people going in and out of common areas where food is being prepared such as the kitchen or around the grill.
  • Have one person serve food and opt for single-use plates and utensils.

Travel and Overnight Stays

  • Get your flu vaccine shot before traveling.
  • Always wear a mask in public settings and mass transportation.
  • Keep a safe distance of at least two arm lengths from anyone who is not from your household.
  • Wash hands often or use hand sanitizer.
  • Avoid touching your mask, eyes, nose and mouth.

The agency also ranked a series of popular Thanksgiving activities by their level of risk last September.

Low-risk Thanksgiving activities include:

  • Having a small dinner with only the people who live in your household
  • Hosting a virtual dinner and sharing recipes with family and friends
  • Shopping online rather than in person on Black Friday and Cyber Monday
  • Watching sports events, parades and movies from home
  • Preparing traditional family recipes for family and friends and delivering them in a way that does not involve contact with others

Among the moderate-risk activities are:

  • Having a small outdoor dinner with family and friends who live in your community
  • Visiting pumpkin patches or orchards where people use hand sanitizer before touching pumpkins or picking apples, wearing masks is encouraged or enforced, and people are able to maintain social distancing
  • Attending a small outdoor sports events with safety precautions in place

The higher-risk activities the CDC is asking people to avoid on Thanksgiving include:

  • Going shopping in crowded stores just before, on, or after Thanksgiving
  • Participating or being a spectator at a crowded race
  • Attending crowded parades
  • Attending large indoor gatherings with people from outside of your household
  • Using alcohol or drugs that may alter judgment and make it more difficult to practice COVID-19 safety measures.

Potential Exposure

If you are exposed to COVID-19 at a holiday gathering or while in transit, the CDC recommends you self-quarantine for 14 days and watch for a fever of 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit or higher, cough, shortness of breath or other COVID-19 related symptoms.

Consider getting tested for the virus, and even if you tested negative or you feel healthy, you should still stay at home for 14 days after your last contact with a person who has COVID-19. This is because symptoms may appear two to 14 days after exposure to the virus and some infected people never have symptoms at all but are contagious.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

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