Do your research and take the appropriate precautions to enjoy a healthy holiday this year.
- Celebrating with your own household is the safest option for holiday activities.
- Small gatherings and outdoor events can help minimize risk.
- Wear a mask, wash your hands and practice physical distancing to protect yourself and those around you.
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The desire to celebrate as we leave 2020 behind is understandable. In many ways, this year has been a bit of a mess and for many of us it will be a relief to put it in the rearview mirror. But don’t put on your dance-in-the-street shoes just yet.
Experts agree that the safest way to celebrate the holidays this year is to keep your events small and limit your contact to the people with whom you share a home. If your holiday plans include people from outside your household, several tactics reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19.
Experts agree that the safest way to celebrate the holidays this year is to keep your events small and limit your contact to the people with whom you share a home.
Before you finalize your holiday plans, it’s a good idea to check the requirements, rules and regulations from your local, state or tribal health officials. Recommendations and resources from organizations such as the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) are meant to supplement their information, not replace their authority.
Once you've done your research, it's time to have the "hard conversation." Talk to the people who traditionally make up your holiday celebrations, assess the threats to your health (and theirs) and how much risk you’re willing to take. Ask them what types of contact they’ve had with people and/or large groups, whether they are regularly wearing masks and what social distancing measures they are taking.
Don’t attend if you’re not comfortable with the answers to your questions.
Take appropriate precautions
By now, we've heard how to reduce the spread of infection for months. Celebrating the holidays doesn’t change the standard precautions recommended by the CDC and your local and state governments. If you are hosting or attending an in-person event, you should:
- Wear a mask with two or more layers. Position it securely under your chin and be sure it’s covering your nose and mouth. Your mask should fit securely against both sides of your face.
- Wash your hands regularly for a minimum of 20 seconds. Use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol when you don’t have access to soap and water.
- Keep your distance. Stay at least 6 feet, or about two arm lengths away, from anyone who doesn’t live with you, especially if you’re indoors.
- Don’t share food. Ask guests to bring their own food or serve pre-packaged goods.
- Find ways to assess risk. Ask your guests what types of contact they’ve had with people and/or large groups, whether they are regularly wearing masks and what social distancing measures they are taking.
- Take it outside. Research shows that outdoor activities are safer. If weather permits, hold your celebrations outside and stay physically distanced from your guests.
- Limit travel. Check local travel restrictions before finalizing your plans to determine if there are testing requirements, quarantine regulations or stay-at-home orders you need to follow if travel is something you are considering.
Sit this one out
Not everyone can enjoy in-person holiday celebrations safely. You should not host or attend activities or holiday events if you or someone in your household:
- Has been diagnosed with COVID-19 and has not yet met the requirements to be around others safely.
- Has symptoms of COVID-19.
- Is waiting on COVID-19 test results.
- Has been exposed to someone with COVID-19 in the last 14 days.
- Is at increased risk due to their age or an underlying medical condition.
Holiday traditions give us a time-honored way to reflect on the past and enjoy the company of family and friends as we prepare for the coming year. But this year, it may not be possible to do things "the way they've always been done." That doesn't mean you can't still enjoy the holidays. It just means you may have to adjust your expectations.
Don’t put pressure on yourself to have a perfect holiday because you think it will compensate for the changes you’ve made to this year’s agenda.
- Let go of unrealistic expectations. Don’t put pressure on yourself to have a perfect holiday because you think it will compensate for the changes you’ve made to this year’s agenda.
- Mix it up. Honor your traditions but be open to making changes where needed to adjust for the different circumstances.
- Let technology help you celebrate. Use programs like Zoom to stay in touch this year but be careful not overschedule yourself with too many virtual holiday gatherings, office parties or family get-togethers.
- Love the ones you’re with. Embrace the opportunity to spend more time one-on-one time with your family—even if you’re all starting to go a little stir crazy. Years from now you may even remember it fondly.
Even if the holidays look a little (or a lot) different this year, the sentiment surrounding them remains the same. And that may be all the celebration you really need in the long run.
Find a doctor
Whether you require an in-person visit or want to consult with a doctor virtually, you have options. Swedish Virtual Care connects you face-to-face with a nurse practitioner who can review your symptoms, provide instruction and follow-up as needed. If you need to find a doctor, you can use our provider directory.
Swedish remains committed to the safety of our patients, caregivers and the community at large. In response to the recent surge in COVID-19 infections throughout the Puget Sound, Swedish is taking extra precautions in safeguarding patients and caregivers from risk of infection by restricting our regular visitor policy until further notice.
This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.
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