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Nine Ways to Safeguard Your Family Gatherings During COVID

Holiday_Season_Masks Stay safe and enjoy the holidays
Instant-read temperatures make it easier to detect early COVID-related symptoms

I was surprised to learn recently that the majority of COVID-19 infections now occur at home.With the recent surge of new cases and the upcoming holiday season, here are some alternatives for reducing transmission risk during holiday family gatherings. The official CDC guidance is available here, and it has updated information for Thanksgiving gatherings. Every family is different and should consider what works best for them.

Make your gathering smaller – Invite fewer people this year.If you have visitors from out of town, putting them up in a nearby hotel instead of at home may help maintain social distancing.

Sanitizing stations – Make it easy to sanitize.Place stations near the kitchen, dining room, and any gathering places in the room.

Wear masks – People may be less likely to wear masks at home, but it may be the most effective safeguard available.Even if your family doesn't opt to wear masks, consider wearing masks during certain activities, such as cooking.

Less cooks in the kitchen - The kitchen is the usual gathering spot during Thanksgiving. Consider having fewer cooks this year and provide an alternative area/activity for those not involved with cooking. Of course, cleanup duties should go to the non-cooking group.

Extra chairs – Put some out to make social distancing easier.

Less formal dining – Have a less formal meal setting to encourage social distancing.Consider spreading out and watching the afternoon NFL game as a dining option.Eat outside if the weather permits.

Take temperatures – Purchase an instant-read thermometer to see if any participants are at risk. Note: Instant-read thermometers cost $35 to $50 and appear to becoming in short supply.Buy one at your local drug store or order online ASAP.

Respect your elders – Elderly people are at greater risk. Some are carefully quarantining themselves, others continue to participate in gatherings. Understand what they are comfortable with.If they live nearby, dropping food off at their house may need to be a new holiday activity.

Save the traditional arguments for next year – Haven't we already been through enough this year? Avoid any family "third rail" topics to reduce stress.Shouted arguments increase the spread of airborne particles and droplets, and possible transmission. 

Additional tip: Have all guests conduct a COVID test a few days beforehand - This won't completely eliminate risk due to the variance in incubation periods, but could provide reassurance to some of your guests.  Be sure to account for the time to mail in and receive your results, depending on the testing service used.  Mail-in tests cost approximately $109, but may be covered by your insurance.

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