Michigan Association of Health Plans

Holiday Gatherings During COVID-19: What Doctors Say About Traveling and Family Events

’Tis the season that families and friends would typically be gathering to share food and gifts. But with the COVID-19 pandemic raging, this year will be different.

After months of being separated, many families and friends are pondering whether they want to attempt spending the holidays together while doing their best to not spread coronavirus or if they should skip the gatherings altogether for the safety of themselves and others.

While there is nothing that can completely eliminate the risk if people choose to celebrate the holidays with others, the good news is that there are ways of making a gathering safer.

“This doesn’t have to be all doom and gloom,” said Kirsten Bibbins-Domingo, PhD, MD, MAS, and chair of the Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics at UC San Francisco.

Many health experts are predicting a sharp increase in coronavirus infections over the holidays as people travel around the nation to and from areas with higher COVID-19 rates. But the extent of the spread can be curtailed by people taking precautions, said Bibbins-Domingo. “We have ways to keep ourselves and our loved ones safe during this time when we traditionally get together.”

Bibbins-Domingo and other infectious disease experts from UCSF say that while there are some definite “don’ts” for this holiday season, there’s also a whole menu of strategies for minimizing risk. At the top of the list are the things we’ve already been doing – wearing masks, maintaining physical distancing of at least six feet, and frequent handing washing. These choices all pair well with testing, planning lower-risk activities, traveling safely, and being creative about how to include people in festivities.

This article was originally featured in UCSF News, read more here.