COVID-19: How to Celebrate the Holidays Safely
By Erin Kang
December 23, 2020 · 3 minute read
With the holidays coming in full force, the U.S has hit a record-breaking number of COVID-19 cases in the past few weeks. Some hospitals are at capacity, and our healthcare workers are exhausted. Therefore, it is up to us to celebrate this holiday season responsibly. While the safest way to celebrate is by staying home with only those you live with, people will travel and celebrate in groups.
Before the Main Event
If you are traveling to someone else’s home for the holidays, make sure the rules and guidelines are set before you arrive there. Asking questions such as:
· Can we keep the gathering outside/well ventilated?
· How many people will be there?
· Will the gathering be a socially distanced one?
· Are people able to be tested before the gathering?
Asking these questions ahead of time will allow you to decide whether it’s safe to celebrate or not. The location of a gathering can either decrease or increase the risk of exposure. Gathering in an indoor setting, especially in places with poor ventilation, increases the risk of exposure. If you are forced to gather indoors, keep plenty of hand sanitizer stocked and make sure to maintain social distancing if possible.
The more people at the gathering, the more the risk of exposure increases. Although the CDC does not have a limit or a recommended number of people for gatherings, the limit should depend on how much space is available and if people can remain six feet apart to follow community health guidelines.
Should not attend in-person gatherings:
· If you or anyone you know of has been diagnosed with COVID-19 and has not been cleared as safe to meet with others
· If you or anyone you know has symptoms of COVID-19 or may have been exposed to someone with COVID in the last 14 days
· If you or anyone you know is at increased risk of severe illness from COVID-19, i.e., if you are an older person with certain medical conditions.
The safest way to travel is in your own car. Airports will lead to an increase in the risk of exposure to the virus, whereas if your mode of transportation is your car, the only real places of exposure will be rest stops, gas stations, and hotels (if you choose to stay in one). However, if you have to use public transportation, always wear a mask, keep your distance from fellow travelers, and always wash your hands before and after traveling.
The Main Event
When greeting others, try to limit the amount of contact. Instead of a hug or a handshake, opt for a fist or elbow bump. If you are hosting outside, you can use tailgating tents to ensure airflow while also staying protected from possible rain or bad weather. If you are hosting inside, maximum airflow is still much needed. You can crack the windows open and have fans blowing air from the inside out. Attendees should wash their hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If they cannot wash their hands, hand sanitizers containing at least 60% alcohol should be used. Extra masks and single-use towels should be kept in stock, as well.
Although food is not proven to be a huge risk, preparation and serving can lead to increased risk. Limit the number of people who prep the food, and avoid having many people in the kitchen. The CDC also recommends using single-use utensils and plates so that they can just be thrown out afterward. When eating and drinking, make sure your masks are placed in a clean place, such as a paper or mesh bag.
With COVID cases skyrocketing every day in the US, we need to practice community health guidelines. However, that is not to say you can’t still celebrate the holidays with your loved ones. Happy Holidays and I hope everyone stays safe!
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About The Author
Erin Kang is a senior at James S. Rickards High School and is a part of the Sciteens team. Her hobbies include baking, listening to music, and playing the violin. If you have any questions or future article recommendations, feel free to contact her firstname.lastname@example.org.