WellSpan: Winter holidays and safety tips

Winter holidays

The winter holidays are upon us, a time when we usually gather with family and friends to sing, light candles and share meals.

What can we do to stay safe, as COVID-19 surges and gathering indoors to share food and companionship leads to the spread of the virus?

“Just as we did on Thanksgiving, we need to keep wearing our masks, staying away from crowds and washing our hands,” said Dr. Mark Goedecker, vice president and regional medical director, WellSpan Health. “Hope is on the way, with a vaccine, but we need to continue our vigilance as we wait for the vaccine to be readily available.”

READ: Working on the ‘front lines’

Tips from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control

  • Celebrate virtually or only with your “bubble,” members of your immediate household.
  • Avoid indoor gatherings, which pose a greater risk than outdoor gatherings.
  • Seniors or those with underlying medical conditions are at a particular risk for COVID-19 and should avoid gathering indoors with those who are not in their bubble.

READ: WellSpan: COVID-19 and flu have a lot in common

If you do decide to gather indoors

  • Ask guests to avoid contact with those outside their bubble for 14 days before your gathering.
  • Wear a mask and wash your hands.
  • When you are eating and drinking, stay at least 6 feet apart from those who are outside your bubble.
  • Avoid handshakes and hugs.
  • Open windows and doors, place central air and heating on continuous circulation.
  • Ask people to bring their own food, drink and utensils.
  • Limit people in or around food preparation and serving areas.

READ: PA Department of Health: Big surge in COVID-19 cases

Travel and overnight stays

Here are some recommendations for travel and overnight stays during the holidays. Ask yourself and your loved ones these questions to help you decide what is best for your family. If the answer to one or more of these is “yes,” consider a virtual gathering:

  • Are you, someone in your household, or someone you will be visiting at increased risk for getting very sick from COVID-19?
  • Are cases high or increasing in your community or your destination?
  • Does your home or destination have requirements or restrictions for travelers? (Check state and local requirements before you travel.)
  • During the 14 days before your travel, have you or those you are visiting had close contact with people they don’t live with?
  • Do your plans include traveling by bus, train, or air which might make staying 6 feet apart difficult?
  • Are you traveling with people who don’t live with you?

Above all, celebrate the winter holidays safely, whether in person with lived ones, or virtually, looking forward to the day when restrictions can be lifted.