What do you do about the holidays this year?
We have had to remain socially distanced for many months and are yearning to connect with those we love. However, with the holidays approaching, we are struggling with how to connect while still staying healthy and preventing the spread of Covid-19. The CDC has some guiding principles that we can follow in order to limit our exposure during the holiday season.
First of all, the CDC states that a gathering refers to any collection of people, indoors, outdoors, planned or spontaneous. In general, they say that the more people an individual interacts with at a gathering and the longer that interaction lasts the higher the potential risk.
Lowest risk: Virtual-only activities, events, and gatherings.
More risk: Smaller outdoor and in-person gatherings in which individuals from different households remain spaced at least 6 feet apart, wear masks, do not share objects, and come from the same local area (e.g., community, town, city, or county).
Higher risk: Medium-sized in-person gatherings that are adapted to allow individuals to remain spaced at least 6 feet apart and with attendees coming from outside the local area.
Highest risk: Large in-person gatherings where it is difficult for individuals to remain spaced at least 6 feet apart and attendees travel from outside the local area.
If you are going to get together with others in person here are some considerations for hosting or attending a gathering:
- Check the COVID infection rates in areas where attendees live on health department websites. The higher the level of community spread, the higher the risk.
- Limit the number of attendees as much as possible to allow for people from different households to remain 6 feet apart.
- Host outdoor rather than indoor gatherings as much as possible. Even outdoors, require guests to wear masks when not eating or drinking.
- Avoid gatherings in crowded, poorly ventilated spaces with people who are not in your household.
- Increase ventilation by opening windows and doors as is feasible or by placing central air and heating on continuous circulation.
- For outdoor seating under a tent, ensure that guests are still seated with physical distancing in mind. Having no walls in tents is best. If weather requires sides to be up consider having one or more rolled up at least 12 inches for ventilation.
- Require guests to wear masks except when eating and drinking.
- Encourage guests to avoid singing or shouting especially indoors. Keep music down so guests don’t have to shout or speak loudly to be heard.
- Encourage attendees to wash their hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
- Have hand sanitizer readily available.
- Have extra masks and handwashing supplies on hand.
- Use touchless garbage cans if available. Use gloves when removing garbage bags or disposing of trash.
- Plan ahead and ask guests to not have contact with people outside their households for 14 days before gathering.
- Do not let pets interact with people outside your household.
If we keep these guidelines in mind we can still connect but do it safely. Protecting each other is the best way we can show love this holiday season.