You can stay connected this holiday, and here are safer ways to do it

There are ways to keep some traditions going this year and connect in ways that are safer.

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We all feel the temptation to gather with family and friends during the holidays.

The recent spike in COVID-19 cases doesn’t mean there aren’t some safer ways to stay connected and keep some holiday traditions going.

“This holiday season, we’ll have to be more intentional about taking steps to improve our mental wellness,” said Crystal D. Narcisse, M.D., internal medicine physician and pediatrician with Norton Community Medical Associates – Hurstbourne.

“Plan your holidays using video like Zoom, Google Meet, Facebook Messenger — there are plenty of options — rather than getting together in person. Plan a drive-by visit to wave, shout and honk while keeping a safe distance.”

You can celebrate with members of your own household, but inviting others for a holiday dinner would be especially dangerous this year.

Hosting a large gathering presents multiple opportunities to increase risk of coronavirus spread. There’s travel, behavior of attendees before and during the gathering, the duration of the get-together, poor ventilation indoors and numerous other factors that make large groups dangerous.

Protect yourself and those close to you

This is not the year to take your chances on the flu. It’s not too late to get your flu shot.

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Among the tips offered by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):

Lower-risk activities

  • Plan dinner with only people who live in your household.
  • Prepare your traditional family recipes for family and friends and deliver them without contact — especially those at high risk for severe COVID-19 complications.
  • Have a video dinner with friends and family.

If you are hosting

Given the recent increase in COVID-19 cases, it’s just not a good idea to invite guests outside of your immediate household this year. However, if you are going to host within your state and local requirements, here are some ways to help protect your guests.

  • Have dinner outdoors, if weather allows, with nearby family and friends.
  • Wear masks when not eating or drinking. At gatherings that include persons of different households, everyone should wear a mask that covers both the mouth and nose. Stay at least 6 feet away from people who are not in your household at all times.
  • If using a tent and the weather forces you to put up the sides, leave one or more sides open or roll up the bottom 12 inches of each wall to improve ventilation while still blocking the wind.
  • Plan ahead and ask guests to avoid contact with people outside of their households for 14 days before the gathering.
  • Increase ventilation by opening windows and doors to the extent that is safe and feasible based on the weather, or by placing central air or heating on continuous circulation.
  • Get more tips from the CDC.

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