Small gatherings are increasing the number of COVID cases around the country. What does this mean for the winter and holiday season?
As fall and winter approach, the U.S. has been experiencing a rise in COVID-19 cases across the nation. According to the director of the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) one of the most worrisome sources of infections is small gatherings, especially now that the holidays are near. What does this mean?
After 7 months of living through a pandemic, government guidelines regarding COVID-19 safety remain strangely hazy. While the CDC hasn’t exactly defined a “small gathering,” they have released a guideline regarding COVID-19 and the holidays, giving us something to work with.
According to the CDC, the location and length of gatherings are two very important factors; outdoor gatherings are less risky than indoor ones, providing people with sources of ventilation and more space to comply with social distance guidelines. The duration of the gathering is also important, because the more time you spend with others, the higher the risk of contracting COVID-19. This means that outdoor drinks held in someone’s backyard, with a moderate amount of guests, are less risky than a large dinner held in someone’s home.
Other factors to consider include whether you or your guests have traveled recently, the level of risk of the area where you live, and your guests’ lifestyle. Have they been complying with social distancing guidelines? Have they been exposed to the virus within the last 10 days? All of this information matters before setting up an in-person meeting of any kind.
Dr. Shunling Tsang, medical director for ambulatory quality and vice chair of the department of family medicine at Riverside University Health System in California, explained to Health magazine that while it’s tough to stay away from friends and family during the holidays, with the numbers of cases and hospitalizations rising all over the country, the safest gatherings would be those that are virtual.
“If there is a need for a small gathering,” she said, “it should be held outdoors with social distancing, [and] strict adherence to mask wearing and to local and state public health guidelines.”