(ABC4) – After the last year and a half of pandemic-era living, many folks may be looking forward to spending the holidays with their friends and family in person this year.
Not so fast — the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is recommending this year’s holiday festivities continue to stay virtual.
“Attending gatherings to celebrate events and holidays increases your risk of getting and spreading COVID-19,” CDC officials say. “The safest way to celebrate is virtually, with people who live with you, or outside and at least 6 feet apart from others.”
As the COVID-19 infection rates rise every day in the country and in Utah, health officials say spending holiday celebrations virtually is still the safest way to prevent a COVID-19 infection. Most recently, reports show 700,000 Americans have died from COVID-19. Of those who have contracted coronavirus, 37% of patients still suffer from long-COVID symptoms even many months after the initial infection.
Some easy, safe ways to celebrate:
- Hosting video chat parties with loved ones
- Planning a special meal to enjoy virtually together
- Taking food and gifts to neighbors, friends and family
- Hosting outdoor gatherings with small groups
- Driving or walking around your community and waving to neighbors from a safe distance
- Throw a virtual dance party and collaborate with friends and family on a playlist
- Volunteering to help others in need
- Attending a virtual ceremony or celebration
If you must celebrate indoors, health officials say it’s important to take steps to protect yourself and others during these gatherings.
“Have conversations ahead of time to understand expectations for celebrating together,” CDC officials say. “Do not attend or host a gathering if you are sick or have symptoms of COVID-19. If celebrating indoors, bring in fresh air by opening windows and doors, if possible.”
If meeting indoors, face coverings are strongly recommended. Health officials say outdoor activities are always safer than indoor ones, but if it’s a crowded outdoor gathering with those who may not be vaccinated, mask-wearing is still the safest option.
For holiday travel, the CDC strongly recommends getting vaccinated before traveling. If you’re still traveling unvaccinated people or young children, check out the CDC’s safe travel tips. Everyone, whether vaccinated or not, will still be required to wear a mask on public transportation.
If you’re considering traveling for the holidays or an event, visit the CDC’s Travel page to help you decide what’s best for you and your family.