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How to Have a Very Merry and Safe Holiday During COVID-19

Coronavirus (COVID-19)
Author name: Lee Health

A Norman Rockwell painting of this holiday season seems unimaginable, not with COVID-19 cases surging across the country and hopes for a vaccine before Thanksgiving vanishing.

But we can still cherish our times with family and friends despite the pandemic. We just need to exercise an abundance of caution while continuing our efforts to control the spread of the virus during the festive season ahead. No one wants to spend the holidays in isolation, quarantine or in a hospital.

Here are some basic precautions from health expert Dr. Alex Daneshmand, Lee Health Chief Quality and Patient Safety Officer, and the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), to help make the holidays brighter and merrier.

First, remember the basics

As always, keep following the basic guidelines for protecting yourself and others.

Cover your mouth and nose with a mask or cloth face covering, keep your distance, wash or sanitize your hands frequently. And, if you’re sick, stay home and away from others.

Holidays are for traveling, right?

Well, not this year perhaps. Travel should be minimized at this time, recommends the CDC.

“Because cases are increasing all over the country, the CDC recommends that staying home is the best way to protect yourself and others from COVID-19,” Dr. Daneshmand explains. “Travel, especially to areas where the virus is spiking, only increases the chance of getting and spreading the virus. If you must travel, consider the risks involved first.”

To evaluate your travel risks, visit the CDC’s website here.

What activities are the safest during Thanksgiving?

“Interacting with other people is essential to our well-being mentally and socially,” Dr. Danehsmand says. “After all, the holidays are about connections.”

The CDC considers the following activities to be low risk:

  • Having a small dinner with your housemates
  • Preparing traditional family recipes for family and neighbors, especially those at higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19, and delivering them in a way that doesn’t involve contact with others
  • Having a virtual dinner and sharing recipes with friends and family
  • Shopping online rather than in person on the day after Thanksgiving or the next Monday
  • Watching sports events, parades, and movies from home

What about hosting a small gathering of local family and friends?

“If you decide to have a small in-person gathering, you can lower everyone’s risk by hosting the event outdoors, if possible,” Dr. Daneshmand says. “Make sure any out-of-town guests remain vigilant about safety precautions. Take extra precautions such as asking your visitors to quarantine 14 days before their visit.”

The CDC considers a small outdoor dinner a moderate risk event. Should you decide to host an outdoor dinner, adopt the following precautions. To learn more about lowering your risk by following CDC’s recommendations on hosting gatherings or cook-outs, visit here.

  • Members from the same household can sit together at the same table. Tables should be spaced 6 feet apart.
  • Masks should always be worn except when sitting with household members and eating.
  • Have hand sanitizer available at all tables.
  • Serve food on the tables instead of buffet style.
  • Avoid touching, hugging or even handshaking. Elbow bumps are fine! Masks are effective, but social distancing is essential.

What activities should I avoid entirely?

The CDC suggests avoiding the following activities to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus:

  • Attending large indoor gatherings with people from outside of your household
  • Participating or being a spectator at a crowded race
  • Attending crowded parades
  • Shopping in crowded stores around Thanksgiving
  • Using alcohol or drugs, which can cloud judgment

Our family has a tradition of shopping after Thanksgiving or on ‘Cyber Monday’ at our local stores. Is this advisable?

The CDC lists shopping online as a low-risk activity instead of in person. If you shop in person, find stores that follow proper precautions, Dr. Daneshmand suggests. “Shop only at stores that require masks and limit the number of customers inside at any one time,” he adds.

For more information, you can visit the CDC holidays site here.

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