With the holidays approaching, it is important to remember that while the sound of joy and the smell of snow might be in the air, so is covid-19.
Right now, I know that everyone is thinking of how they will celebrate their usual family gatherings in an unusual year - with Thanksgiving Thursday, Christmas and New Year’s soon to follow, I thought it would be prudent to share some safety tips on how to safely navigate the holiday season. Unfortunately, still no tips for dealing with “those” members of your family or unwanted house guests.
Here are some tips put together by our friends at the CDC and the state of Connecticut for hosting and attending holiday functions:
Celebrating virtually or with members of your own household is the best way to reduce the spread. The CDC recommends that at indoor small family gatherings, family members should be at least six feet apart. If the space of the gathering does not allow for this, then you should rethink your attendance list. Indoor gatherings at a location where there is poor ventilation pose more risk of spreading the virus than at outdoor gatherings. Additionally, the state of Connecticut is recommending no more than 10 person in attendance to any gathering.
Also, recommended is wearing a mask and washing your hands. Family members, who have not been adhering to social distancing, mask wearing, handwashing and other preventative measures will pose more risk of spreading the virus and should rethink their attendance. For members traveling from out-of-state or for instance college students returning home, it is important that you know the risk of your attendance. Places such as airports, bus and train stations, public transportation, gas stations and rest stops can expose travelers to the virus in the air or on surfaces. Travelers should be extremely cautious and may need to rethink their attendance. Another risk factor is the duration of the gathering. Longer gatherings pose more of a risk than gatherings with a shorter timetable. Being within six feet of someone who is positive with covid-19 for a cumulative total of 15 minutes or more will greatly increase the risk of you becoming sick and would require a 14-day quarantine.
Please make sure to continue following covid-19 safety measures during the gathering. This is important to remember for maintaining safety during the celebrations. It is recommended that the following people should not attend in-person holiday gatherings:
People who have been diagnosed with covid-19 and haven’t met criteria for when it’s safe to be around others should not attend in-person gatherings.
If you have symptoms of covid-19 you should not attend in-person gatherings.
If you are waiting for your covid-19 test results you should not attend in-person gatherings.
If you may have been exposed to someone with covid-19 within the last 14 days you should not attend in-person gatherings.
If you are at increased risk of severe illness or live or work around someone who is at increased risk of severe illness, you should not attend in-person gatherings with people not of your household.
If you are someone who is hosting a small family gathering you should remind guest to stay home if they have been exposed to covid-19 in the last 14 days or are showing symptoms of covid-19. Consider keeping a list of guests who attend for future potential contact tracing needs. Make sure you encourage social distancing. If possible, host your gathering outdoors. However, if this is not possible then make sure you have a space that is well ventilated. Consider providing hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol and make sure to clearly mark designated hand washing areas. Limit the number of people serving or handling food. Having people bring their own food and drink is another way to keep people safe.
While we are not sending the NBPD out to break-up any family gatherings, it is important that we all do our part to stop the spread. Things may be different this year, but what’s most important is keeping everyone safe and healthy.
We will get through this together, but while we are in it, we must use wisdom, caution, and good sound judgement in order to move past the pandemic. Remember to think beyond yourself!
Erin Stewart is the mayor of New Britain