How to Have Safer Holiday Celebrations During COVID-19

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Posted by Yoko Kuramoto-Eidsmoe

After nearly two years of COVID-19 precautions, a lot of people are in the mood for holiday merrymaking. But the virus still presents a threat to many and people with certain health conditions are especially vulnerable. In an effort to promote safe gatherings this holiday season, here are a few suggestions to minimize the risk of you and your loved ones spreading anything other than holiday cheer:

Keep it smaller and shorter: While the vaccines mean that most of us no longer are as limited in what we can do, it is still a good idea to save the big all-night celebrations for another year. You are less likely to catch or spread diseases if there are fewer people around or if you spend less time around others. A nice dinner with family is still a special way to celebrate.

Consider virtual get-togethers: If you have a large family and can’t cut down the guest list without offending someone, you can use Zoom, Facebook Messenger, Apple FaceTime, or other video call software to enjoy seeing everyone. Small groups can gather in different houses so that more tech-savvy folks can help others get online.

Get vaccinated!: This is the best way to protect yourself and others around you. If you are already fully vaccinated, check here to see if you qualify for a booster shot.

Be aware of the local transmission rate: How safe your party is depends on whether there are a lot of COVID-19 cases near you. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has a transmission-rate tracker you can use to see what the current situation is in your area.

If you feel sick, stay home: Even if you have been vaccinated, you may become infected with COVID-19. While being vaccinated means that you are less likely to become very sick, you should stay away from others to keep from spreading the virus to them.

Get tested: If you are uncertain whether your illness is likely to be COVID-19 or something else, you can check the CDC’s list of COVID-19 symptoms. The CDC also has more information on who should get tested and what kinds of tests are available

Safer travel options: If you will be traveling to visit with loved ones, you can follow these tips for a safer journey. You can weigh the COVID-19 risks of different ways to get there and take precautions to reduce the risk.

Enjoy the great outdoors: If the weather is warm enough where you are, consider holding your gatherings on a patio or deck. Many restaurants also have outdoor heaters to keep warm. 

Open the windows: When outside locations are not a possibility, open a few windows to keep fresh air circulating.  

When in doubt, wear a mask: If you or a family member has a health condition that puts you at special risk, you may find it more comfortable to wear a mask while others are around — even if everyone is vaccinated. Keep a mask handy for those situations when you need an extra layer of protection.

It’s OK to go home: In a normal year, it would feel rude to arrive at someone’s party and then immediately turn around to leave. But we have all been through a lot and you need to protect your health and well-being. You can tell your hosts, “I’m sorry. I thought I would be able to stay but it turns out that I’m not comfortable with that yet.”

Have a conversation in advance: It can be hard to talk about COVID-19 vaccinations, masks and other precautions these days. While a conversation with friends and family is a bit different from one between a care provider and recipient, check out our tips on how to navigate this difficult conversation

Remember: With a little planning, understanding, conversation and creative thinking, you can enjoy safe and happy holidays this season!

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