The holiday season brings pumpkins, winter holidays and cooler weather. But this year, the holiday season also brings back COVID-19 fears.
To keep everyone safe and healthy, the Center for Disease Control, or the CDC, has released in a statement to NPR on October 5th that their holiday guidelines published on their website are under revision and will be updated soon.
But the CDC’s recent advice provides information for anyone wondering the best way to plan in advance for these upcoming months full of festivities.
For right now, the CDC still states that virtual gatherings are the safest choice for wanting to connect with friends and family outside respective households.
If wanting to see friends and family in person is preferred, they recommend having outdoor gatherings instead, as it is not pertinent for people to wear masks outdoors. The exceptions to this rule include areas with high case numbers, close contact with unvaccinated people and crowded spaces.
When meeting friends and family members inside, it is important to keep the 6 ft apart distance, stay in a well-ventilated room, and wear a mask, especially around unvaccinated community members. It is also a good idea to keep a window open to let fresh air in while hosting people.
“We know now that this is clearly spread by aerosol, and when you have something spread by aerosol, you absolutely want more ventilation, which is the reason why outdoors is always much safer than indoors, and if you are indoors, ventilation is going to be key,” said Dr. Anthony Fauci on Face the Nation, also published in an article on npr.org.
If family is visiting but not staying in the same household as you this holiday, the CDC states that the safer options continue to be outdoor activities.
In Dallas, some of these activities can include Holiday at the Arboretum or watching a Christmas movie outside with a projector.
If someone contracts or is exposed to COVID, which will most likely happen at larger events, the first step to take is to get tested.
For unvaccinated individuals, staying home for 14 days, watching for a fever or other symptoms and staying away from others, especially those at high risk, is the best way to quarantine and handle the situation. If fully vaccinated, the CDC says to “get tested 3-5 days after the exposure, even if you don’t have any symptoms.” Additionally, wearing a mask in public indoor spaces for 14 days until receiving a coronavirus test is also outlined.
Whether celebrating inside or outside, the CDC is still recommending anyone above the age of 12 who can, to get vaccinated.
As well, the CDC has advice for people wanting to travel domestically for the holidays, which was published October 4th.
First, the CDC wants everyone to know to delay travel until fully vaccinated. This way, they can travel safely throughout the United States.
During travel for vaccinated people, wearing a mask properly is still required on all forms of public transportation while indoors. In outdoor spaces, a mask is not mandated.
Although according to the CDC, if numbers are high in the area, “a mask in crowded outdoor settings and for activities with close contact with others who are not fully vaccinated,” wearing a mask is the best idea.
Also, it is important to follow and stay up to date on all state and local recommendations.
After travel, paying attention to any coronavirus symptoms and adhering to state and local procedures is important.
For unvaccinated people, the rules slightly differ.
In addition to wearing a mask, avoiding crowds, staying at least 6 feet apart from people they are not travelling with and washing their hands or using 60% alcohol hand sanitizer is the safest way to handle travel.
When returning home, the CDC wants unvaccinated people to take a viral test within 3-5 days from travel return and still quarantine for seven days, whether the test is positive or negative.
To make sure every rule is followed, checking travel and COVID restrictions from local or health departments is the best way to make sure everything is handled correctly, while also checking for new information from the CDC.
Although COVID is still prevalent, the holiday season can still be filled with joy and happiness for all through alternative ways to celebrate.