Safety Needs To Be Added To The Menu This Holiday Season

By: George Kovacik

When the COVID-19 pandemic started in March, none of us thought we would still be dealing with it during the 2020 holiday season, but here we are. With the number of cases rising throughout the United States, it’s important to take certain precautions when getting together with family and close friends, especially if Grandma and Grandpa will be coming over.

Dr. Linda Yancey, an infectious disease specialist with Memorial Hermann, encourages everyone, if possible, to hold their celebrations outdoors.

“When someone with coronavirus breathes out when they are outside, the air disperses much more quickly than if you are indoors, thus lowering the risk of infection,” Yancey said. “When you breathe indoors, the virus has nowhere to go and lingers in the air, greatly increasing the chances of infection.”

Yancey also suggests creating a “quaranteam” or a holiday “bubble” with a small group of likeminded people, all of whom are engaged in safe practices to protect themselves and others against COVID-19. In order for a bubble to be successful, every member has to be honest about their actions and committed to otherwise isolating, starting at least 14 days out from the planned get-together.

“Consider asking the people who will be joining your gathering to get tested before they attend. Also, make sure they have had a u shot,” Yancey said. “If there is a person you are thinking of having over who has an increased risk of severe illness from COVID-19 or lives or works with someone at an increased risk, I would set up a way to visit with them virtually instead.”

Food is probably the biggest part of any holiday celebration. Most of the time the food is served buffet-style, with one big spoon for everyone. Yancey says this is not a very good idea.

“I would encourage everyone to use their own utensils when putting their food on the plate instead of a community serving spoon. Also, you want to avoid having the dishes of food on the table and passing those dishes around to family and friends,” Yancey said. “You should have plenty of tables so you can maintain a good six feet of distance from people who do not live with you.”

Yancey recommends traveling by car instead of taking an airplane, and if possible, do not travel at all this holiday season. She adds it will also be safer to take part in online shopping instead of going to the mall. She says when it comes to shopping on Black Friday, stay home.

“If you do have to venture out for holiday shopping, make sure you are wearing a mask, bring hand sanitizer with you, and try to socially distance as much as possible,” Yancey said. “This is not the year to be in line with hundreds of people and ghting with someone over a TV with an incredible
price tag.”

And while Yancey does not want to discourage anyone from using their vocal talents to bring holiday cheer, she says you need to take precautions.

“Because the virus spreads mainly from person to person, typically through respiratory droplets from talking or coughing, wearing a mask will be the best way to keep you from contracting the virus in a choir or choir-like setting,” Yancey said. “I know it’s not ideal, but it’s the safest way. If you plan to go caroling or singing outside, that is a much safer way to go.”

Yancey says she is not trying to be Ebenezer Scrooge when it comes to the 2020 holiday season, she just wants everyone to be safe.

“If you wear a mask, maintain social distancing, wash your hands and have received the u vaccine, you should be able to have a safe holiday season,” Yancey said. “If we continue to practice these safety measures, we can get back to normal sooner rather than later.”

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