The holidays are right around the corner and are traditionally a time for family and friends to travel and be together. With COVID-19 cases increasing at a high rate, many are considering ways to celebrate the holidays differently this year to avoid large gatherings and the risks of traveling.
A Year to Remember
The COVID-19 pandemic has been isolating for many people and the upcoming holidays can be an opportunity to reconnect with family and friends, safely. Celebrating virtually or with members of your own household pose the lowest risk of spread.
“The thought of spending the holidays without traveling or visiting our loved ones is hard to swallow, especially after the last few months of social distancing. Virtual visits and smaller get-togethers are the safest options.”
Below are some lower-risk activities to consider:
- A small dinner with the people who live with you.
- Share recipes with friends and family and have a virtual dinner party.
- Prepare 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 contact with others.
- Shop online the day after Thanksgiving or call your favorite local shop to order gifts for delivery.
- For more information on ways to stay safe during the holidays, please visit the CDC website.
Weighing Your Options
For many, holidays include traveling. The first thing to consider is who are you going to be traveling to visit and is it going to be safe for you or them. If you have any chronic health conditions or have family members that are high risk for COVID-19, it might be best to celebrate the holidays differently this year to keep you and your loved ones healthy.
“If you and your family elect on in-person get-togethers, I would recommend masks, social distancing, and plenty of hand washing,” shares Dr. Gray. “Maybe break up the holidays and spend one holiday with one side of the family and the other with a different side to limit the number of people you are in contact with during a short period of time.”
Reducing the Risks
There are ways to reduce risk if you choose to travel or celebrate in-person. Consider isolating yourself for two weeks in advance of your trip to minimize the chance of bringing the virus with you, wear a mask and practice good hand hygiene.
Dr. Gray suggests practicing stricter social distancing the two weeks prior and after these get-togethers and to watch for symptoms of COVID. Consider getting tested at mass screening events prior to the holidays and call Altru’s COVID hotline with any symptoms for testing.”
Additionally, our collaborators in care at Mayo Clinic have shared the tips below on how to reduce the risk of COVID-19 spread when traveling.
Tips to reduce risks of COVID-19 spread when traveling by air, bus, train or car:
- Stay masked when around others.
- Wash your hands frequently or use hand sanitizer (at least 60% alcohol).
- Try to maintain a social distance of 6 feet from anyone who is not from your household.
- Avoid crowded areas.
- Avoid high touch surfaces.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
- Use disinfecting wipes on gas pump handles and buttons before you touch them.
Do not travel if you are not feeling well, have a fever or have been exposed to someone who has tested positive for COVID-19.
Advice for College Students
College students are one group that must weigh these decisions a little differently than previous years.
Altru’s clinical collaborators at Mayo Clinic share advice for students. Watch Dr. John O’Horo, Infectious Disease Specialist at Mayo Clinic, provide his insight and recommended measures to stay safe during the holidays.
The North Dakota Department of Health is advising students to stay on campus over the Thanksgiving break to limit the spread of COVID-19. For those students who choose to travel, limit activity and minimize contact with others two weeks prior to any travel or gatherings. The campuses will have testing events before and after the break, and students are encouraged to attend the available testing on campus or in their community.
Although they might look a little different this year, we wish you and your loved one’s happy holidays!
For more information and the latest updates on COVID-19 please visit altru.org/coronavirus.
Please note, due to the fluid nature of the COVID-19 pandemic, guidelines and recommendations included in this blog may change over time and could vary from the original date of publication. For the latest news and updates related to COVID-19, please visit altru.org.