Tough holiday discussions

Tough Parenting Conversations about Holiday Expectations During Covid-19

I will soon have conversations with my family about the amazing holiday season. We will be adjusting our traditional Holiday events due to COVID-19 A simple conversation about a new way to celebrate Christmas, Thanksgiving, etc. will suffice.

Our families are awaiting the beautiful feasts of Thanksgiving as well as the fun- filled day of Christmas gifts, decorations and festivities. But what about the trips to see Mr. and Mrs. Santa Claus while taking pictures?  Will we be making cookies and hanging ornaments, lights, Christmas tree garlands and stockings as usual?

This year, we will have to adjust to pandemic realities. To know how and why, I will share some vital information from the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases (NCIRD), Division of Viral Diseases (updated Oct. 19, 2020)

As many people in the United States begin to plan for fall and winter holiday celebrations, the Center for Disease Control offers the following considerations to help protect individuals and their families, friends, and communities from COVID-19. These considerations are meant to supplement—not replace—any state, local, territorial, or tribal health and safety laws, rules, and regulations with which holiday gatherings must comply.

When planning to host a holiday celebration, you should assess current COVID-19 levels in your community to determine whether to postpone, cancel, or limit the number of attendees. Virus spread risk grows during holiday celebrations

Celebrating virtually or with members of your own household poses a low risk for spread while in-person gatherings pose varying levels of risk. Event organizers and attendees should consider the risk based on event size and therefore use of mitigation strategies, as outlined in the Considerations for Events and Gatherings. 

There are several factors that contribute to the risk of getting infected or infecting others with the virus at a holiday celebration. In combination, these factors create various levels of risk, so it is important to consider them individually and together:

  • The location of the gathering – Indoor gatherings generally pose more risk than outdoor gatherings. Indoor gatherings with poor ventilation pose more risk than those with good ventilation, such as those with open windows or doors.
  • The duration of the gathering – Gatherings that last longer pose more risk than shorter gatherings.
  • The number of people at the gathering – Gatherings with more people pose more risk than gatherings with fewer people. The CDC does not have a limit or recommend a specific number of attendees. The size of a holiday gathering should be based on the ability to reduce or limit contact between attendees, the risk of spread between attendees, and state, local, territorial, or tribal health and safety laws, rules, and regulations.
  • The locations attendees are traveling from – Gatherings with attendees who are traveling from different places pose a higher risk than gatherings with attendees who live in the same area. Higher levels of COVID-19 cases in an area influence the community spread in the gathering location, including where the attendees are coming from.
  • The behaviors of attendees prior to the gathering – Gatherings with attendees who are not adhering to social distancing (staying at least 6 feet apart), mask wearing, hand washing, and other prevention behaviors pose more risk than gatherings with attendees who are engaging in these preventative behaviors.
  • The behaviors of attendees during the gathering – Gatherings with more preventive measures in place, such as mask wearing, social distancing, and hand washing, pose less risk than gatherings where fewer or no preventive measures are being implemented.

Warning: People who should not attend in-person holiday celebrationsarethose with or exposed to COVID-19.Do not host or participate in any in-person festivities if you or anyone in your household thinks they have contracted the virus

People at increased risk for severe illness: If you are at increased risk of severe illness from COVID-19, or live or work with someone at increased risk of severe illness, you should

  • avoid in-person gatherings with people not in your household.
  • avoid larger gatherings and consider attending activities that pose lower risk (as described on this page).

General considerations for fall and winter holidays

Fall and winter celebrations, such as Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, Halloween, Día de los Muertos, Navratri, Diwali, Thanksgiving, Día de la Virgen de Guadalupe, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Christmas, and New Year’s, typically include large gatherings of families and friends, crowded parties, and travel that may put people at increased risk for COVID-19. You will have to alter your usual form of celebration. Consider fun alternatives that pose a lower risk.

Before you celebrate, consider the options for hosting a holiday gathering.  If you will be hosting a celebration, follow CDC tips for hosting gatherings. Below are considerations for hosting a holiday celebration:

  • Host outdoor activities rather than indoor activities as much as possible. If hosting an outdoor event is not possible, and you choose to host an indoor event, avoid crowded, poorly ventilated, or fully enclosed spaces.
    • Increase ventilation by opening windows and doors to the extent that is safe and feasible based on the weather.
  • Host activities with people only from your local area as much as possible.
  • Limit numbers of attendees as much as possible.
  • Provide updated information to your guests about any COVID-19 safety guidelines and steps put in place to prevent the spread of the virus.
  • Provide or encourage attendees to bring supplies to help you and others stay healthy. For example, extra masks (never share or swap with others), hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol, and tissues.
  • If you are planning an in-person holiday gathering with people outside your household, consider asking guests to strictly avoid contact with people outside of their households for 14 days before the gathering.

As for attending a holiday gathering, If you will be attending a celebration that someone else is hosting, so follow CDC Considerations for attending an event or gathering. Below are some important considerations:

  • Outdoor activities are safer than indoor activities. If participating in an outdoor event is not possible, and you choose to attend an indoor event, avoid crowded, poorly ventilated, and fully enclosed indoor spaces. Increase ventilation by opening windows and doors to the extent that is safe and feasible based on the weather.
  • Check with the event host, organizer, or event venue for updated information about any COVID-19 safety guidelines and if they have steps in place to prevent the spread of the virus.
  • Bring supplies to help you and others stay healthy. For example, bring extra masks (never share or swap with others), hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol, and tissues.
  • If you are planning to attend in-person holiday gatherings with people outside your household, consider strictly avoiding contact with such people for 14 days before the gathering.

Holiday travel: Traveling increases the chance of getting and spreading COVID-19. Staying home is the best way to protect yourself and others. Use information from the following webpages to decide whether to go for holiday travel:

If you decide to travel, follow these safety measures during your trip to protect yourself and others from COVID-19:

  • Wear a mask in public settings, like on public and mass transportation, at events and gatherings, and anywhere you will be around other people.
  • Avoid close contact by staying at least 6 feet apart (about 2 arms’ length) from anyone who is not from your household.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use hand sanitizer (with at least 60% alcohol).
  • Avoid contact with anyone who is sick.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.

During the celebration, you can reduce your risk of being exposed to, getting, or spreading COVID-19. For example, be safe about food and drinks. Currently, there is no evidence to suggest that handling food or eating is associated with directly spreading the virus. Remember, it is always important to follow good hygiene to reduce the risk of illness from common foodborne germs.

  • Make sure everyone washes their hands with soap and water for 20 seconds before and after preparing, serving, and eating food. Use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol if soap and water are not available.
  • Limit people going in and out of the areas where food is being prepared or handled, such as in the kitchen or around the grill, if possible.
  • Wear a mask while preparing or serving food to others who don’t live in your household.
  • If serving any food, consider having one person serve all the food so that multiple people are not handling serving utensils.
  • Use single-use options or identify one person to serve sharable items, like salad dressings, food containers, plates and utensils, and condiments.
  • Avoid any self-serve food or drink options, such as buffets or buffet-style potlucks, salad bars, and condiment or drink stations. Use grab-and-go meal options, if available.
  • If you choose to use any items that are reusable (e.g. seating covers, tablecloths, linen napkins), wash and disinfect them after the event.
  • Look for healthy food and beverage options, such as fruits and vegetables, lean proteins, whole grains, and low or no-calorie beverages, at holiday gatherings to help maintain good health.

After the celebration, If you participated in higher risk activities or think that you may have been exposed during your celebration, take extra precautions (in addition the ones listed above) for 14 days to protect others:

If you develop symptoms consistent with COVID-19, such as fever, cough, or shortness of breath, or if you test positive for COVID-19, immediately contact the host and others who attended the event or celebration. They may need to inform the other attendees about a possible exposure to the virus. Contact your health care provider and follow the CDC-recommended steps for what to do if you become sick, and follow the public health recommendations for community-related exposure.

If you are waiting for your COVID-19 test results, stay home until you have a result, and follow CDC’s guidancepdf icon to help stop the spread of COVID-19.

If you have been diagnosed with COVID-19, a public health worker may contact you to check on your health and ask who you have been in contact with and where you’ve spent time to identify and provide support to people (contacts) who may have been infected. Your information will be kept confidential. Learn more about what to expect with contact tracingpdf icon.

If you are notified that you were in close contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19,

More Information

Content source: National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases (NCIRD)Division of Viral Diseases

Thank you for reading this article and enjoy your family no matter your choice of gathering.

Ms. Rachelle Dillard

She Is You
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