We are coming up to another holiday season during the COVID-19 pandemic. How can we enjoy the holiday season with our loved ones and still protect everyone’s health? Unfortunately, we are still in a time of high risk for transmission of the virus in the Portland Metro Area, cases are increasing in parts of the U.S. and Europe, and hospitals are short on beds and trained medical personnel. Depending on who is getting together for the holidays, you still might have to take some precautions.
Consider the most vulnerable among us: those ineligible for vaccination (such as children under 5 years of age), the partially vaccinated (such as children 5-11 who have had only one dose), those vaccinated but not fully protected because they are immunocompromised, and the unvaccinated.
Here are some general safety measures you can follow to protect people at your holiday gathering:
- Wear a well-fitting mask,
- Follow physical distancing,
- Outdoor gatherings are safer than indoor gatherings,
- Small gatherings are safer than large gatherings, and
- Make sure there is good airflow/ventilation if indoors.
And remember to ask people to stay home if they are sick or have any symptoms of illness, are waiting for COVID-19 test results, or have been around someone with COVID-19 in the last 14 days.
Here is some additional guidance for you from the CDC, the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy, Washington County Public Health, and Katelyn Jetelina, PhD. There is no one right answer for everyone – all of us have to decide what level of risk we are willing to take for ourselves and our loved ones.
- Everyone at a get-together is fully vaccinated and not immunocompromised (a person is fully vaccinated when they are at least 2 weeks past their second dose): Consider getting together if everyone is OK with that. If you are indoors, limit the number of people attending and consider asking everyone wear a mask.
- There are some people who are partially vaccinated: If everyone else is fully vaccinated, consider getting together, perhaps wearing masks to protect the partially vaccinated.
- There are some people who are immunocompromised or not vaccinated: Consider asking the unvaccinated to get vaccinated, get a rapid antigen test to protect everyone including the immunocompromised, or stay home.
- What if you are flying somewhere? Since masks are required on airplanes, you are pretty safe if you are fully vaccinated. For people who are not fully vaccinated, mask wearing and an airplane’s filtration system provide some protection. Be cautious and limit your time in crowded terminals and baggage claim areas. You have to judge if the risk of flying is worth it ̶ it might be safer to wait until everyone in your family is fully vaccinated before flying.
Please get your COVID-19 and influenza vaccinations, if possible, to protect yourself and others in our community. Stay safe and enjoy the holidays however you can!
Your Path to Reopening (P2R) Committee (email: P2R@uuccwc.groups.io),
Mark Bischoff Lisa Lake
Annie Raich Betty Rose
Zsuzsa Vamos Cat Bice