Image courtesy of Shane Cranor.
As the semester draws to a close and the holiday season approaches, it is safe to say that everyone is itching to get back to normal. Yet, as coronavirus cases continue to rise alarmingly across the country, the possibility of normal seems further than ever. Many are focusing on the upcoming holidays as a form of relief from the pressures of living in a COVID-era society. However, after Fall Break and Halloween, we have learned that the holidays are no excuse to let down our guard when it comes to COVID-19.
Many people were able to participate in semi-normal Halloween activities that had been modified to accommodate for social distancing guidelines and rules. Prior to Halloween, the CDC posted a list of activities ranked by how safe they were in terms of adhering to social distancing guidelines. On this list, activities such as virtual zoom parties and movie nights with other members of a household were considered to be low risk, while activities such as normal trick-or-treating and in-person Halloween parties were labeled with the highest risk. The CDC has since modified this list to include other winter holidays along with suggestions on how to celebrate safely. As always, it is highly recommended that everyone avoids large crowds and crowded indoor spaces. After Halloween, a few cities noticed a large spike in cases and were able to trace the spread back to crowded parties with a large attendance rate. Avoiding crowds and keeping our distance is the key to celebrating safely. The CDC also states that wearing an appropriate mask that covers one’s mouth and nose while maintaining a minimum six-foot distance from other people is still the best way to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
So, what does a safe holiday season look like? At the moment, it is not recommended that normal family and friend gatherings take place. Any and all gatherings that do happen need to be outside or in a well-ventilated area where participants can distance themselves. For gatherings with food, it is recommended that only a limited number of people handle the food and that potluck style dinners should be avoided in order to avoid possible contamination. For those traveling this holiday season, it is highly recommended that all social distancing guidelines are strictly adhered to and that travelers make an extra effort to repeatedly sanitize while traveling. Having virtual gatherings/dinners with family and friends over Zoom or a similar platform is strongly recommended.
In short: wear an appropriate mask, avoid crowded gatherings, and continue to wash your hands this holiday season. These guidelines are strict, but they truly are the best possible way to stop the rising number of COVID-19 cases and keep everyone safe as we celebrate together (in person or virtually). The holidays will definitely look a bit different this year, but no one can argue that this holiday season won’t be one to remember.