Don’t Invite Coronavirus to Your Holidays
If you’re feeling like the virus will never end, you’re not alone. We’re now entering our ninth month since the pandemic officially began —nine months without normalcy.
This consistent black cloud we’re under has consequences: a boom in mental health issues, social isolation and constant stress. Now, there’s even a backlash against the measures that have kept many of us from catching the virus. It’s called COVID fatigue. Frustration, boredom, disappointment, depression — many of us are experiencing some of this — me included. Unfortunately, now is not the time to let down your guard. If you’ve been social distancing, wearing a mask and washing your hands, keep doing so. If you’ve slacked, get back with the program. Why?
Cases are surging with new positive test rates higher in November than at any other time during the pandemic. More than a dozen states have reported new spikes and health experts expect more surges before COVID-19 infections level off. While we are closer to vaccines and are doing a better job treating the symptoms of severe COVID-19, catching the coronavirus can still be a very real threat to your health. There are long-term consequences to the infection we still don’t understand, and for some, a diagnosis can be very dangerous.
Which brings me to Thanksgiving and the holidays. You may have heard Dr. Fauci or other epidemiologists warn of upcoming spikes in transmission due to seasonal get-togethers. Gatherings have been epicenters for infection clusters. Weddings and reunions have been super-spreader events, and even small gatherings have led to multiple infections, especially among the most at-risk populations.
You might want to think about a different approach to Thanksgiving or your holiday gatherings this year, especially if you’re in an area where the virus is spreading or if you have high-risk members of your family. I know we’re approaching things differently.
Traditionally, I cook for both my family and my husband’s family at Thanksgiving. My elderly mother flies in from New York, and there’s lots of hugging, conversation and close contact — a combination that the coronavirus loves. But we certainly didn’t set a spot at the table for the virus.
Instead, my mother stayed home and spent the day with my brother and his family. And when we gathered at my house, we did so with social distancing and households in mind. Fortunately, we live in Florida where we can eat outside. We were spread out, and people who live together sat together. My mother-in-law, the highest-risk member of the family, ate at the end of a long table. And we kept the hugging to a minimum.
We plan to take a similar approach for other holiday gatherings and will avoid parties. If you are hosting a get-together, here’s my tips. Hold your gathering outside if possible.
Tailgating tents and chairs, folding tables, picnic pavilions all make for a different experience but a lower-risk experience. And try putting people who live together at the same table.
The Centers for Disease Control recently released new guidelines for gatherings. Check them out at the link above. Here’s a summary:
- Celebrate virtually or with just the members of your household as it poses the lowest risk for spreading the virus. The more people at a gathering, the greater the risk.
- Keep track of what’s going on in your community before host or attend a get together. The higher the transmission rate, the higher the chance that one of your guests will bring an unwanted guest — the virus.
- Consider your guests’ starting location. Are they traveling from an area experiencing widespread outbreaks?
- Remember, indoor gatherings, particularly in poorly vented indoor spaces, pose a greater risk than outdoor gatherings.
- Finally, ask your guests if they comply with CDC recommendations. Will they follow those rules at the gathering?
These are all important considerations as you plan your holidays. We want to help you safely enjoy this special time of year.