With such a beloved and highly anticipated holiday coming up under the dark shadow of COVID-19, we thought we would provide some helpful tips from many sources on how to keep safe and healthy as the nation continues to grapple with escalating COVID infection rates.
Risk Factors During a Holiday Celebration
There are several factors that contribute to the risk of getting infected or infecting others with COVID-19 at a holiday celebration. So, when thinking about going to or hosting a celebration, consider the following in formu- lating your plans:
- Community levels of COVID-19 – Higher levels of COVID-19 cases and community spread in the gathering location, as well as where attendees are coming from, increase the risk of infection and spread among attendees. Family and friends should consider the number and rate of COVID-19 cases in their community and in the community where they plan to celebrate when considering whether to host or attend a holiday celebration (if these are high or trending up, consider cancelling the event or limiting attendees). Consult the website of your local health department for the latest data.
- The location of the gathering – Indoor gatherings generally pose more risk than outdoor gatherings. Indoor gatherings with poor ventilation pose more risk than those with good ventilation, such as those with open windows or doors.
- The duration of the gathering – Gatherings that last longer pose more risk than shorter gatherings.
- The number of people at the gathering – Gatherings with more people pose more risk than gatherings with fewer people. The size of a holiday gathering should be determined based on the ability to reduce or limit contact between attendees, the risk of spread between and state and local health and safety laws, rules, and regulations.
- The behaviors of attendees during the gathering – Gatherings with more preventive measures in place, such as mask wearing, social distancing, and hand washing, pose less risk than gatherings where fewer or no preventive measures are being implemented.
- The locations attendees are traveling from – Gatherings with attendees who are traveling from different places pose a higher risk than gatherings with attendees who live in the same area. Higher levels of COVID-19 cases and community spread in the gathering location, or where attendees are coming from, increase the risk of infection and spread among attendees.
- The behaviors of attendees prior to the gathering – Gatherings with attendees who are not adhering to social distancing (staying at least 6 feet apart), mask wearing, hand washing, and other prevention behaviors pose more risk than gatherings with attendees who are engaging in these preventative behaviors.
- Health of attendees – Do not host or participate in any in-person holiday event if you or anyone in your household…
- Has been diagnosed with COVID-19 and has not met the criteria for when it is safe to be around others
- Has symptoms of COVID-19
- Is waiting for COVID-19 viral test results
- May have been exposed to someone with COVID-19 in the last 14 days
- Is at increased risk of severe illness from COVID-19
Thanksgiving Activity Levels of Safety
The CDC recently came out with guidelines for holiday celebrations including, Thanksgiving. As part of these guidelines, they rated the risk factors associated with different activities from low to high. We thought we would share this information with you.
Lower risk activities
- Having a small dinner with only people who live in your household
- 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 close 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
Moderate risk activities
- 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
Higher risk activities
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
(NOTE: if you did participate in any of these activities or you suspect you may have been exposed to the virus, stay at home as much as you can over a 14-day period, avoid being around people who are considered high risk and consider getting tested for COVID-19)
Most Commonly Recommended Tips to Stay Safe
In conducting our research for this issue, we checked out multiple articles, news stories and websites and have distilled this information to the following tips:
- Limit your exposure to people outside your immediate friends and family network; celebrate this year at home with only the select friends and family that you have been hanging with! Avoid close contact with anyone outside of this group.
- Don’t forget the basics!
- Wear a mask (when you are not eating or drinking)
- Maintain social distancing when around people not in your household
- Wash/sanitize your hands frequently especially after touching commonly touched surfaces
- Avoid football games, parades, large family gatherings and in-person holiday shopping (shop on-line)
- If you are hosting an event, keep attendees to a minimum (ideally, under 10 persons), let your guests know in advance that you will appreciate them following CDC COVID-19 guidelines, space out seating, don’t share utensils, consider plating everyone’s meals, don’t crowd the kitchen, and ensure proper ventilation.
- Avoid “pot luck” dinners and buffets; these can really help spread a virus due to the manner in which the food is “dished out”
- Sanitize common surfaces before and after any celebration at your home (doorknobs, bathrooms, etc.).
- Stay home if you don’t feel well and encourage others to do the same.
- If you go out to eat, first make sure the restaurant has COVID-19 safety standards in place (call ahead to find out what they are doing), make a reservation at a non-peak time, consider getting a table in an outside patio or more expansive area, choose food and drink options that are not self-serve, park your own vehicle and wash your hands thoroughly before leaving.
- Carry around sanitizer so you can apply to your hands before, during and after a dinner or other Thanksgiving event.
Traveling increases the chance of getting and spreading COVID-19. Staying home is the best way to protect yourself and others.
Use information from the following webpages to decide whether to go on holiday travel:
- Travel During the COVID-19 Pandemic
- Know Your Travel Risk
- Know When to Delay Your Travel to Avoid Spreading COVID-19
On behalf of the SecurAmerica family, we hope you and your loved ones spend a healthy, safe and restful holiday giving thanks for your blessings and what makes you happy and thankful right now!