No risk-free way to gather for the holidays

Infectious disease experts are advising strongly against large holiday gatherings during the coronavirus pandemic.

“There is no 100% safe way for two households to get together for the holidays in any area where COVID is circulating, which currently includes the entire United States,” said Roger Shapiro, associate professor of immunology and infectious diseases at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, in an October 13, 2020 Elemental article.

Experts quoted in the article said that families who do want to get together should make sure to communicate with each other about their particular desires and concerns, and work to understand and respect each other’s different comfort zones. Shapiro and others offered advice on how to reduce risk:

  • Hold gatherings outdoors if possible.
  • Wear masks except when eating.
  • Keep at least six feet from others whenever possible.
  • Limit time spent with others, particularly indoors.
  • If you must be inside, open windows to increase ventilation, use an air purifier, or upgrade your whole-house air filters.

Shapiro noted that families could agree to quarantine for 14 days prior to gathering and get tested before traveling. But he added that a negative test result one day doesn’t guarantee that a person is COVID-free or that they couldn’t test positive the following day.

Read the Elemental article: How on Earth Do We Manage the Holidays?