As COVID-19 continues to spread, this year’s holiday season will look and feel very different.
We can still celebrate the holidays, but Kaiser Permanente’s infectious disease specialists support the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s guidance that staying home is the best way to protect yourself and others, as travel increases your chances of getting and spreading COVID-19.
“As the weather gets colder, people stay inside and congregate in smaller spaces, leading to an increase risk of flu and COVID-19 infections,” said Ryan Knueppel, MD, Chief of Infectious Disease at Kaiser Permanente Santa Clara Medical Center.
Bay Area health authorities recently announced recommended protocols for holiday gatherings using the motto: “small, short, stable, and safe.” This refers to keeping the guest list small and the event short, gathering for no longer than two hours and using enhanced safety protocols.
“As much as possible, please limit the size of family gatherings, to minimize spread of infection,” said Knueppel.
Kaiser Permanente recommends holding outdoor gatherings and avoiding crowded, poorly-ventilated, or fully-enclosed indoor spaces.
Also, consider asking holiday attendees to strictly avoid contact with people outside their household for 14 days before coming to your gathering as a way to ensure no one is infected.
“The best way to prevent infections is to maintain social distancing, wear masks, practice rigorous hand-washing, and get vaccinated against the flu,” said Knueppel.
He recommends everyone get a flu shot this year, so they are not only protected against the flu, but also won’t have respiratory symptoms that could be mistaken for COVID-19.
Guests should avoid sharing food or utensils. A modified potluck where people bring their own food to eat is another option.
Families can still celebrate and enjoy the holidays together this year, with some safety protocols in place.