How to have a Covid-safe holiday season – more way of life


The naughty news approximately the upcoming holiday season is that traditional meals and parties — involving indoor settings, naughty ventilation, and prolonged, near contact — are the biggest risk factors for spreading Covid-19. The excellent news is that there are still quite a few reduced-risk activities for friends and family, according to an casual survey of epidemiologists and other experts.

The favoured modifications for holidays like Halloween, Thanksgiving, Hanukkah and Christmas are limiting group size and making an attempt to take things outdoors. Epidemiologist Marc Lipsitch of Harvard said his circle of relatives generally has a big Thanksgiving dinner for 16, but this year it’s just the four people in his nuclear circle of relatives. Julia Marcus, also of Harvard, said she’s skipping a big circle of relatives dinner but will continue the circle of relatives tradition of a Thanksgiving hike. Purdue University virologist David Sanders could also be not attending a Thanksgiving get-together this year and also advocated an outside gathering whether imaginable. 

Whether there’s anything that’s been learned over the seven months of this pandemic, it’s the three c’s of danger: crowds, closed environments, and near contact. Cases are likely to tick up across the country whether millions of people combine all three in one night. But that doesn’t intent you must cancel the holidays outright.

Holiday planners also have to take into accounts if there are vulnerable people in the group, says Sanders. The correct question, he says, isn’t if an activity is protected, but which different alternatives would be safer.

Gathering size is a large factor if you wish to steer clear of spreading the virus. Every extra person increases the risk that someone will bring the virus to the party, and also increases the number of people that might get infected. Whether you double the size of the party, you more or less quadruple the risk of transmission.

Lipsitch suggested inviting friends for a series of smaller gatherings, hosting outdoors, and moving the meal earlier in the autumn, before the weather gets colder. Time is running out in the north, but afternoons can still be balmy in late October and early November.

Marcus adds that ventilation is an under-appreciated risk reducer. Whether it’s too bloodless to hold your small gathering outdoor, open a window and turn on the heat.

Marcus in specific has been willing to speak about something that’s painfully true but politically flawed: Asking people not to have any normal social encounters for months on end is brutal. And unnecessary. Because she’s worked in AIDS/HIV, she makes the distinction between an abstinence-only approach to public health and a harm-reduction approach.

Abstinence is how things started in the pandemic, with people advised against venturing out of their homes with the exception of for fundamental trips. Even low-risk activities were discouraged. “That’s obviously unsustainable and has not been a successful mannequin for any other area of public health so I don’t realize why it would be now,” she says.

A sustainable approach recognizes that some activities, such as large, indoor gatherings, are high risk, but others don’t seem to be, such as going to the beach or letting kids play in playgrounds.  Restricting the low-risk stuff, or shaming playground and beach users, she says, is leading to distancing fatigue without in fact reducing much risk.

“People have social needs and our whole approach to this pandemic may have benefitted from recognizing this up front,” she says. “We have in large part failed to do this and the result is people are in great need of social connection.” Many of us are having a look forward to the holidays so that you can relieve that need.

Marcus says she disagrees with CDC’s decision to put trick-or-treating in the same risk category as indoor haunted houses with people screaming. Whether the kids aren’t crowded together, and they wear masks, she sees the old Halloween staple as a low risk activity.

Some families is also trying to receive everyone tested first, or the usage of a 14-day quarantine before and after a gathering. The experts had a lukewarm response to such complicated approaches — none of them would try it. A 14-day quarantine on either side of a party is asking a lot, and getting the timing of tests correct is complex. Just look what happened at the White House Rose Garden gathering a month ago.

While proceeding with the holidays at all this year might seem frivolous, it’s far from it. Pandemic rules have sucked much of the delight from life. Festivities shouldn’t be a casualty. We need them not despite living through a drawn-out pandemic, but as a result of it.

(This story has been published from a wire agency feed without modifications to the text.)

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