The “most wonderful time of the year” is near, typically full of holiday cheer. But what will this season look like amid the COVID-19 pandemic, and how can we stay safe when traveling or gathering with friends and family?
Elizabeth Ransom, MD, FACS, executive vice president and chief physician executive of Baptist Health, offers advice for a safe holiday season.
“We really need to think carefully about how we celebrate and what that should look like,” Dr. Ransom said. “The pandemic isn’t over. We still have to take all precautions necessary to prevent spreading COVID-19.”
Remember the basics. If you are attending a gathering, always wear a mask and practice social distancing, regardless of the size of the party. Be sure to wash your hands and/or use hand sanitizer frequently.
Think small. If you have a small family and you’ve been quarantining together throughout the pandemic, it should be safe to hold a Thanksgiving gathering with just those people. If you have family members or a small group of friends you don't live with but have been seeing frequently throughout the pandemic, it should be safe to celebrate together, but wear a mask and practice social distancing as a precaution.
Unfortunately, this is not the year to have a big celebration with the entire extended family.
Get creative. Instead of adding more people to an in-person get-together, try to connect virtually with friends and family.
Explore the great outdoors. Take advantage of the warm weather in Florida and consider hosting your gathering outside to reduce the risk of transmission. Even when celebrating outside, be sure to limit the size of the gathering and have everyone wear masks.
Plan ahead. Think about the following questions as you’re making travel plans:
Are you traveling by car or plane to your holiday destination?
Is anyone in your family or who you will be seeing considered high-risk?
How many people will be at the event you plan to attend? Have you
interacted with these people recently? Do you know who they have interacted with, or whether they follow COVID safety recommendations?
Will masks be worn by those at your destination?
Your answers to these questions will determine what safety precautions you should take.
Don’t shy away from tough conversations. If you need to tell your family members you can’t have them over this year, or if you’re planning not to attend a large family gathering, don’t be afraid to express your concerns and explain why you won’t be attending.
At Baptist Health, we want to help keep our community informed about COVID-19. For more information, visit baptistjax.com/covid19.