As the holidays approach, communities wonder what they should do to safely celebrate with their families. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has come out with what they are calling “considerations” to help individuals determine what they will do this year.
“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,” the CDC state.
One of the main things you should consider when planning any type of gathering is the current COVID-19 level in your community. This will help you determine whether to limit, postpone or even cancel your event.
You should also consider the locations from which your guests are coming. What are the levels in their communities? If possible, limit your guest list to people from your local area.
Indoor gatherings pose a greater risk than outdoor gatherings, and indoor gatherings with poor ventilation pose a greater risk than indoor gatherings with good ventilation, such as those with open windows and doors. In general, an outdoor venue is the better choice, but if you must use an indoor venue, increase ventilation by opening doors and windows.
Next, you should consider the duration of the event. The longer the gathering, the greater the risk.
The number of people at the gathering is a factor. The more people at the event, the greater the risk. The more space between people, the less likely the spread of the virus. Limit the number of attendees as much as possible.
You should consider the behavior of the guests you are planning to invite. Do they practice social distancing, hand washing? Mask wearing? Consider asking all guests to strictly avoid contact with people outside their households for 14 days before the gathering.
During the gathering, wear a mask. Avoid singing, chanting or shouting.
Instead of potluck style gatherings, encourage guests to bring food and drinks for themselves and members of their own households.
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 the 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 think that you may have been exposed during your celebration, take extra precautions for 14 days after the event to protect others:
• Stay home as much as possible.
• Avoid being around people at increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19.
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 that attended the event or celebration that you attended. They may need to inform other attendees about their 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 the CDC’s guidance 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 you whom you have been in contact with and where you’ve spent time in order to identify and provide support to people (contacts) who may have been infected. Your information will be confidential. Learn more about what to expect with contact tracing on the CDC’s website.
If you are notified that you were a close contact of someone who tested positive for COVID-19:
• Stay home for 14 days from the last time you had contact with that person.
• Monitor for symptoms of coronavirus.
• Get information about COVID-19 testing if you feel sick.