The month of December is a time to honor long-held beliefs and to escape the anxieties of life. December is rich with sense-memory and stirs in many the desire to give generously to loved ones and strangers alike. December, whether you celebrate Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, or Christmas, is a time for coming together. Unfortunately, like so many things in 2020, this December will be different. The threat of COVID-19 overshadows the dilemma of how to split our time between holiday parties and community events. If you are one of the millions of people who are determined to travel or socialize this holiday season, here are a few helpful tips to keep and your loved ones healthy.
1. Always Wear a Mask
We often hear the warning to stay at home if we show any symptoms of illness, but that doesn’t protect us from the a-symptomatic and pre-symptomatic individuals. These individuals are one of the reasons why face masks are so vital to keeping everyone safe. Make sure that the mask fits correctly. It should not slide below the nose or pinch the back of your ears. Instead of having an ugly sweater contest in your family, challenge everyone to create ugly holiday masks.
2. Keep Your Distance
How do you show affection? After so many months apart and so much stress, it is the most natural and necessary thing to want to be physically close to the people we love. It is another thing that this pandemic has taken from us. It is the reason why many have chosen to stay home this year so that next year’s holiday festivities don’t have the shadow of loss hanging over them. Be determined to keep at least 6-feet away from everyone that doesn’t live in your immediate household. As unnatural as the aversion to human contact may feel at the time, it is a more favorable alternative to being kept from your loved ones who are suffering in an ICU bed.
3. Keep the Air Flowing
Numerous studies have shown that proper ventilation is indispensable in the fight against contracting COVID-19. The lack of adequate ventilation is one of the leading causes of spreading disease through nursing homes and cruise ships. Since it is impossible to wear a mask while we eat or keep 6-feet away from people when we are all in a small place, we need to ask ourselves how far we are willing to go to keep our family safe. “The weather outside is frightful” in most parts of the country, but if we can bundle up and take the festivities outside or keep our windows cracked, we add another layer of protection to this year’s celebration.
4. Better to Postpone than to Miss Out Forever
Most medical experts believe that COVID-19 is transmitted through respiratory droplets. Unfortunately, activities like singing or kissing under the mistletoe are traditions we need to forfeit this year. Imagine how much richer those experiences will be next year when we can reflect on the measures we took to keep all our loved ones safe for another year of merriment and traditions.
5. Pack the Correct Hand Sanitizer
We all have our favorite hand sanitizer brand, but not all hand sanitizer is the same. While we may love the fruity fragrance of one brand or the consistency of another brand, if the hand sanitizer in our luggage is less than 70% alcohol, it will do little more than deodorize our skin. If we take a closer look at our hand sanitizer label before we leave the house, we are in a better position to protect ourselves whether we are in a grocery store, an airport, or in our in-laws’ living room.
In the end, the only way to be sure that we protect our loved ones is to stay at home. In the absence of that decision, please remain vigilant. Treat this virus with the seriousness it deserves. None of these steps are comfortable or convenient, but please remember that it is better to have a safe holiday in December than an ICU New Year’s.
For more information on the risk of COVID-19: