By Brendan Looney
Worried about how you’re going to celebrate this holiday season with the threat of the pandemic ever-looming? You’re certainly not alone. Many families are adjusting their holiday plans in order to protect their loved ones from COVID-19.
According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), “The safest way to celebrate winter holidays is at home with the people who live with you. Travel and gatherings with family and friends who do not live with you can increase your chances of getting or spreading COVID-19.”
In this unprecedented time, I decided to go out and ask students in my area what their plans are for the upcoming holidays.
“We’re going to have a socially distanced outdoor Christmas Eve party with only 6-8 people,” said Shane McCadden, Endicott College ’21. “Everyone is going to eat dinner at their house before, and then come to my uncle’s house for drinks after.” The CDC defines social distancing as keeping a safe space between yourself and other people not from your household by staying at least six feet (about two arms’ length) from other people who are not from your household in both indoor and outdoor spaces.
“Even though we are going through a pandemic I think that it is necessary to spend this time alongside my relatives,” said Brett Grace ’22, University of Mass. Lowell. “In order to see my family, I am going to get a COVID test before I go. If the COVID test is negative I will not have to quarantine. If I test positive for any reason, I will probably set up a Zoom meeting to share the holiday with my parents and sister.”
The actual timing of a test matters, as we know from the CDC. Not everyone needs to be tested, but if you do get tested, you should self-quarantine at home pending test results. “If you test negative, you probably were not infected at the time your sample was collected,” according to the CDC’s website. “The test result only means that you did not have COVID-19 at the time of testing.”
Jacob Hunt ’23 from Salve Regina University said that he will still have gatherings, but they will be smaller. “We’re taking precautions like staying away from non-family members and wearing masks when out in public.”
Resorting to virtual methods of communication such as Zoom or Facetime is a safer method of communicating and may be crucial in preventing the spread of the disease within their families.“We will have virtual meetings with family members that live far away,” said Ava Melo ’24, University of Alabama Tuscaloosa. “We plan on virtually meeting with family members who are immunocompromised or get sick easily.”
The more steps you and your family can take to prevent the spread of COVID, the safer you will be. For example, wearing a mask over your nose and mouth is one of the best ways to protect yourself and others from the virus. However you decide to celebrate, please do so responsibly and help fight the spread of COVID together.