With coronavirus cases currently on the up and a major uptick forecasted as the US approaches its winter months, there are major worries that holiday celebrations could result in a large increase in the spread of the disease.
Infectious disease experts and scientists at the National Institutes of Health have warned that the incoming colder weather will likely result in a strong convergence of Covid-19 and influenza, causing the country to become much more ill as a result and placing further strain on hospitals and the economy.
With the colder weather also bringing with it the holiday season, the public are less likely to adhere to coronavirus safety protocols and exhibit caution when it comes to the pandemic.
Instead, a rise in large gatherings and cross-household meets is likely, which could have a disastrous impact on the coronavirus outlook in the country.
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have released guidelines to inform the US public how to best stay safe over the coming months. The guidance explains how Americans should behave in and prepare for any potential gatherings as well as providing necessary information on traveling, hosting or attending parties in the current pandemic climate.
“As many people in the United States begin to plan for fall and winter holiday celebrations, CDC offers the following considerations to help protect individuals and their families, friends, and communities from COVID-19,” the guidance reads.
“These considerations are meant to supplement—not replace—any state, local, territorial, or tribal health and safety laws, rules, and regulations with which holiday gatherings must comply.
When planning to host a holiday celebration, you should assess current COVID-19 levels in your community to determine whether to postpone, cancel, or limit the number of attendees.”
According to the CDC, the main advice is to check the Covid-19 case numbers in communities in order to determine whether it is safe to host a gathering at all, or whether it is necessary to limit numbers at an event or celebration.
“Some people in this country are going to be able to have a relatively normal type of a Thanksgiving, but in other areas of the country, it’s going to be, ‘You better hold off and maybe just have immediate family, and make sure you do it in a way that people wear masks, and you don’t have large crowds of people,’ ” Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institutes of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said in a recent interview with CNN.
“What we’re starting to see now — and we can’t run away from it — we’re starting to see in the Midwest and the Northwest, an uptick in test positivity, which tends to be a predictor that you’re going to have surges,” Fauci said.
“Celebrating virtually or with members of your own household poses low risk for spread. In-person gatherings pose varying levels of risk. Event organizers and attendees should consider the risk of virus spread based on event size and use of mitigation strategies, as outlined in the Considerations for Events and Gatherings,” the guidance continued.
“There are several factors that contribute to the risk of getting infected or infecting others with the virus that causes COVID-19 at a holiday celebration. In combination, these factors will create various amounts of risk, so it is important to consider them individually and together.”
As expected, the CDC recommends staying at home and hosting a virtual Thanksgiving celebration in order to minimize the risk of spread as much as possible and the public health institute also recommended preparing holiday food for non-household family members, especially those currently vulnerable, and delivering it to them without any contact.
Further advice was to refrain from getting caught up in the post-Thanksgiving shopping furore and avoid malls and stores in favor of shopping online to remain as safe as possible.
“Understanding that everyone has this traditional, emotional, understandable, warm feeling about the holidays — and bringing a group of people, friends and family together in their house, indoors — that’s understandable,” Fauci, a member of the White House Coronavirus Task Force, told ABC News during an interview last week. “But we really have to be careful this time, and each individual family evaluate the risk/benefit of doing that.”
“You may have to bite the bullet and sacrifice that social gathering, unless you’re pretty certain that the people that you’re dealing with are not infected. Either they’ve been very recently tested, or they’re living a lifestyle in which they don’t have any interaction with anybody except you and your family,” Fauci added.
“(My daughters), because of their concern for me and my age, have decided they’re not going to come home for Thanksgiving, even though all three of them want very much to come home for Thanksgiving,” Fauci said.
“That’s one family’s decision. Otherwise we would love to be together,” he said.
“We decided to make it a very, very close family type of thing,” he added. “That was my decision. I’m not going to criticize people who do it differently, but look at the individual situation in your own family and make a decision that way.”