You’ve probably already begun to discuss how you’re going to celebrate the holidays with your family. As we approach Thanksgiving, the COVID-19 pandemic isn’t showing any signs of waning. This is why it’s crucial you take precautions to keep yourself and your loved ones safe this holiday season.
We recommend that you forgo the traditional holiday gatherings this year. Only celebrate in person with people in your own household and connect virtually with loved ones outside your home.
If you choose to celebrate in person with people outside your household, consider the option with the lowest level of risk.
The CDC has developed guidelines to help you understand the risk factors that affect the virus spread and help you make the best decisions for you and your loved ones.
If Planning Or Attending Holiday Gatherings, Know Your Risk Level
If you choose to participate in a holiday gathering, what you do or don’t do can determine whether you are at a higher risk of getting COVID-19. Consider the following factors when choosing to attend a holiday gathering.
How bad is COVID-19 in your community
Higher levels of COVID-19 cases in the community you are gathering in — or the community you or your guests are traveling from — increase your risk of infection at your gathering. You can find transmission rates in your area on your community’s health department website. See COVID-19 updates for Shelby County and DeSoto County.
Indoor gatherings pose a greater risk than outdoor gatherings, particularly indoor gatherings with poor ventilation. If you’re celebrating indoors, leave windows and doors open to increase ventilation.
The more time you spend together, the greater the risk of getting or spreading COVID-19 and other viruses.
Number of people
The more people attending your gathering, the greater the risk of getting or spreading COVID-19. In addition to following your community’s guidelines on the size of gatherings, also consider the space in which you’re hosting and your ability to reduce or limit contact between attendees.
Are your attendees behaving badly?
Attendees who are not adhering to infection prevention behaviors — including social distancing, mask wearing and hand washing — put you and your family at greater risk.
Behaviors of attendees during the gathering
Gatherings where all guests are practicing preventative measures, including mask wearing and hand washing, pose less risk than those where fewer or no preventative measures are practiced.
What To Do Before Your Celebration
Provide your guests with information on COVID-19 safety guidelines and steps to prevent the spread of the virus. Provide or encourage attendees to bring supplies, including masks and hand sanitizer. Establish rules of the road in terms of adherence to safety practices and exercising caution.
Limit contact with people outside of your household for 14 days prior to the gathering.
Get your flu shot. While a flu shot will not protect you from COVID-19, flu and COVID-19 will both spread this fall and winter. The flu vaccine has been shown to reduce the risk of flu illness, hospitalization, and death, which could save critical healthcare resources to care for patients with COVID-19 this season (CDC). Getting your flu shot is easy. Walk-in to one of our Methodist Minor Medical Centers or schedule an appointment with your Methodist Medical Group – Primary Care provider.
What To Do During Your Celebration
Limit close contact by maintaining 6 feet or more from people outside of your household.
Wear a mask at all times around people who don’t live in your household and safely store it while eating and drinking.
Limit contact with commonly touched surfaces, and clean and disinfect those surfaces between uses.
Wash hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after you have been in a public place, or after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing. If soap and water are not available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. Cover all surfaces of your hands and rub them together until they feel dry.
Bring your own food, drinks, plates, cups and utensils and avoid going in and out of the areas where food is being prepared or handled, such as in the kitchen.
Use single-use options, like salad dressing and condiment packets and disposable food containers, plates and utensils.
What To Do After Your Celebration
If you participated in higher risk activities or think that you may have been exposed during your celebration, take extra precautions for 14 days after the event to protect others:
Stay home as much as possible.
Avoid being around anyone at an increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19.
Monitor yourself for COVID symptoms, and immediately isolate if symptoms appear. Remember, early COVID symptoms can be quite mild. A recent Shelby County Health Department study of COVID-positive individuals showed that 63% were still socializing or participating in sporting or recreational events even after symptoms emerged. Don’t pass off a cough or sniffle as allergy symptoms. Be safe. Immediately isolate and/or get tested.
If you develop symptoms of COVID-19, such as fever, cough or shortness of breath, or if you test positive, immediately contact the host and other attendees to inform them of their possible exposure.
Stay Well This Season
We’re approaching what are the most important holidays of the year for many of us, and the idea of not seeing our loved ones in person is difficult. However, staying home is the best way to protect yourself and your loved ones. Take this opportunity to get creative and try new ways of celebrating and spreading joy!
Check in on your health often this season and keep up with your regularly scheduled doctor’s appointments. If you’re feeling sick, don’t hesitate to contact your Methodist provider or visit a Methodist Minor Medical Center.
As always, we’re here for you this holiday season and all year long.