Thanksgiving and the whole holiday season is known as a time for friends and family to gather together in celebration, but with COVID-19 numbers now resurging, a conflict arises.
The U.S is currently seeing record numbers of daily cases, especially in places, such as California. On Monday, California cases hit a new single day record with more than 13,000 new cases. The recent news of a potential vaccine is exciting, but the general public should not expect access to it until after the holiday season.
Visiting family and friends during the holidays seems necessary, but it could be potentially dangerous. Officials at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases say that contact tracing suggests that one of the biggest reasons for these recent surges is small personal family gatherings.
It’s easy to let your guard down when around close family members whom you trust. However, this can be counterproductive when dealing with a sometimes asymptomatic disease where the person may not have known they recently came in contact with a positive case.
So what are some solutions?
Everyone can agree they are not as fun, but virtual celebrations are ways to congregate with family members without risking the potential spread. This is a great solution if some of your family members are planning on not gathering with anyone, while others are. This is also a way to compromise and bring everyone together. For Thanksgiving, maybe someone shares a recipe beforehand, and everyone makes the same dish. Or, share your best fall cocktail recipe when you gather, and go around the room and have each person say what they are thankful for.
If you plan on gathering, keep it small and outside
The smaller the gathering is, the less room and risk you run for a potential spread. Keeping the group small makes it easy to social distance. Outside air flow has been shown to dilute the virus and makes it harder to contract. Having an event outside can also leave for plenty of room to social distance. Even with windows open, there is less flowing of air inside and the virus has been shown to linger in the air for hours, putting everyone in the room at risk. Set up tables six feet apart and avoid communal appetizers and buffets.
Traveling is the biggest risk
Thanksgiving and Christmas are two of the biggest traveling periods of the year. The official recommended advisory says not to travel; however, this is only a recommendation and not a mandate. The most risky part of traveling is the influx of random people you are coming in contact with. There is uncertainty about what measures everyone has taken to stay safe, and you could very well be on a plane or in an airport with multiple positive COVID cases.
If you must travel, try to avoid planes and airports. Stick to traveling by car if possible. Keep your mask on in public areas and consistently wash your hands. Avoid restaurants and stick to takeout or food that you bring along. If you have an overnight stay, wipe down all high touch areas. The virus has been shown not to specifically linger on surfaces, but better safe than sorry.
If you want to go the extra mile to protect your family and friends, consider quarantining for 14 days when you reach your destination before seeing them.
For more information on travel advice visit here.
Featured Image by Patrick Tomasso via Unsplash.
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