After COVID-19 vaccines rolled out, a lot of families said “so long” to Zoom and FaceTime and resumed in-person holiday celebrations. It was a relief to see people again and resume what seemed like a pre-pandemic lifestyle. Even with vaccinations and boosters, the virus continued to infect people, which was evident in the 2021 winter surge of COVID-19 cases. With COVID on the retreat, though, it seems that this holiday season is much safer than the previous two.
Most people don’t even factor COVID-19 into the equation anymore. Some people don’t even acknowledge it as a threat, while others remain cautious and want to do everything they can to stay safe. Regardless of whether people wear masks or don’t, get vaccinated or not, there seems to be conflicting public health guidance about precautions. This can unsettle anyone and people may not be sure of how they want to celebrate during the holidays.
How many parties should you attend? What are the “rules of the game” at your Friendsgiving? Are there things you should do to avoid a COVID-19-giving at your Thanksgiving? Infectious disease experts say that it is good to take a cautious approach to holiday gatherings. You cannot predict how COVID will unfold, but you can do your part to stay safe, especially if you have family or loved ones that are more susceptible to serious infection. If you want to keep yourself and others safe during holiday gatherings, consider employing the following strategies.
Stay Home If You Have Symptoms
This holds true whether or not you have COVID-19, flu, or RSV symptoms. Since the top symptoms of COVID-19 have changed, you may want to click here for that information. If you have a runny nose, sore throat, cough, headache, or fever, it is best to stay home until you feel better, even if you test negative for COVID-19. Viruses like the flu and RSV can seriously affect small children, pregnant women, and older or more vulnerable people. If you have any upper respiratory illness, you should not be at a gathering, according to infectious disease specialists. A lot of symptoms may seem innocuous, but that isn’t always the case.
Exercise Caution Leading Up To The Gathering
In the 10 days or week preceding your holiday gathering, health experts recommend that you take precautions. That includes minimizing contact with people outside your household. Keep an eye on the data in your area and observe any public health reports or warnings. COVID-19 continues to hospitalize and kill people, indicating that the virus continues to spread, even if the sickness is more mild for a lot of people now. Double-check that nobody has symptoms or has not been exposed before your gathering. It’s a great idea to take a COVID-19 test as another safety precaution.
Stay Safe During Travel
Masks aren’t required for most travel these days, but that tends to depend on the airline, or the country you’re visiting. In general, air quality on planes is better than it is on buses or trains. Although your chances of getting sick in the sky are fairly low, it can be beneficial to mask up, especially while you are in the airport. Additionally, you may want to keep your mask on while the plane taxies to the runway. The reason for this is because filtration systems may not turn on when the plane is grounded. And if you travel by train or bus, consider masking up for the duration of the journey.
Ventilate Your Party Space
Open a window or two, and maybe even a door, to invite fresh air into your holiday gathering. Improving ventilation, so long as weather permits, can help prevent virus particles from accumulating in a space. You don’t have to invest in a fancy air filter, as there isn’t much data that suggests high-tech options are better than natural ventilation. Don’t have a great cross-breeze? Place a fan next to an open window and have it oscillate to move air around the room. If your place has an air-conditioning (HVAC) system, you can reduce viral transmission by setting the fan to the “on” position, as opposed to “auto” when you have people over.
Don’t Forget About Other Viruses
COVID-19 has been the reigning champ of viruses for the last few years, but influenza and RSV are sickening a lot of people right now. Infectious disease experts explain that that’s all the more reason to take precautions this holiday season. Do your best to avoid high-risk settings, such as indoor crowded events, especially the week before your holiday gatherings. In addition to avoiding crowds, take care of your health by eating healthy foods. Consider amping up your immune system with an all-natural vitamin C supplement, get a lot of sleep, and do your best to get in 30 minutes of physical activity every day.