Holiday traditions are important.
Likewise the health of family and friends.
There are ways to minimize health risks by having a festival and still enjoying the popular traditions of the season.
“I think we’re in a different place this year,” said clinical nurse Alice Benjamin. “We had vaccines, we have tests. I think we’re in a safer place, but you still need to take these extra precautions.”
Vaccination remains your best defense. A booster shot further increases protection. However, it takes two weeks for the COVID vaccines to take full effect.
So the Los Angeles County’s Department of Health, state health officials, and medical experts offer some advice on what to do on the day of a Christmas party or gathering to minimize the risk of the spread of COVID.
Think of location, location, location
Avoid places where COVID spreads more easily, such as closed rooms with poor air circulation. Overcrowded rooms with people from different households and close contact situations – especially where people talk, sing and laugh – also pose a higher risk.
It’s best to meet outdoors. If this is not possible, indoor airflow can be improved by opening doors and windows, using fans and air purifiers, and turning on the HVAC system.
Get a COVID test
This is an especially good idea if you’ve invited people who are at high risk of developing serious illness from COVID. A positive result means you have an infection and should avoid buildup. A negative test means you may not have an infection. The CDC recommends repeating the test with at least 24 hours between tests to be more sure that you are not infected.
“The steps Californians can take to protect themselves and loved ones during the holidays are some of the most important,” said Dr. Mark Ghaly, secretary of the California Health and Human Services Agency. “First, if you are sick and have symptoms, stay at home. Don’t go to the Christmas party, don’t mingle with people who could be vulnerable if you passed an infection to them. Second, before you start collecting, be sure to get tested. Tests are widespread, there are many test sites, let us test you. “
Keep in mind that COVID symptoms can appear two to 14 days after exposure to the virus, the CDC says.
Wear a face mask
Masks are recommended indoors. It is advisable to wear one outdoors when there are many unvaccinated people, guests at an increased risk of serious illness, or when you do not know a person’s vaccination status.
The California Department of Health says masks are optional if everyone is fully vaccinated at an indoor gathering.
Lay the table
If possible, adjust the tables so that people sit with members of the same household. At the table, leave some space between non-household members.
Keep your hands clean
Wash hands before and after preparing the holiday meal. Have hand sanitizer available for guests. Think about recruiting some dedicated servers so that not everyone touches shared items.
Your home, your rules
Doctors and nurses told the NBC4 I team that hosts should consider requiring guests to show proof of a negative test or full vaccination. About 30 percent of the country is still partially or completely unvaccinated.