November 17, 2020 – The COVID-19 pandemic has touched every person in one way or another this year. We’ve worn masks and social distanced, but we are tired and want to reconnect with family and friends, especially during the holidays. COVID is something to take seriously, as 3.3 percent of Americans have tested positive for coronavirus, and in Dickinson County, 6.5 percent have tested positive, with 35 percent of those positives in the last month alone. If you get COVID, the consequences can be huge – time away from school or work, possible lost wages, the need to quarantine, and the potential for severe illness or death for yourself or worse, friends or loved ones who could be exposed.
This holiday season, Lakes Regional Healthcare encourages you to take the following seven tips to help prevent getting COVID:
- Decide what’s most important and err on the side of caution.
Many of us haven’t seen family much this year. That’s difficult to deal with, but it may still be too soon to get together in person even though it’s the holiday season. “Consider the ages and health conditions of attendees and those they could expose afterwards, and how they may fare if infected with COVID. Lakes Regional Family Medicine Physician and Dickinson County Board of Health Chair Zach Borus, MD, MPH said, “You can still connect, however. Set up a computer or iPad or phone at the table and connect virtually. Have a prettiest pumpkin pie contest, tell stories, and give thanks via videoconference. It’s not quite the same, but it’s safer.”
- Limit the number of people and households involved.
Gatherings of more than 15 people are prohibited by Governor Reynolds’ November 16, 2020 proclamation. If you decide it’ll be okay to get together in person, consider limiting the number of households involved, so if someone is asymptomatic and exposes others, fewer people get sick. Those who have health conditions such as heart or lung issues should celebrate with their immediate family members rather than attend a large, extended family gathering.
- Stay home if you’re sick or have been exposed.
If you feel even the slightest bit sick, stay home. Dr. Borus said, “Because people can spread COVID-19 with no or mild symptoms, even if you think you have a cold or allergies, don’t chance it. And if you know or suspect you have been exposed, please follow the quarantine guidelines and celebrate virtually.”
- Wear a mask at all times when not eating.
The main message of wearing a mask during COVID still applies. Maybe make it fun by wearing cute holiday-themed masks.
- Open the windows.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Iowa Department of Public Health, the COVID virus spreads more easily indoors versus outdoors. Ventilation is not as good indoors and virus particles aren’t quickly diluted by fresh air. Opening a window may improve air flow and dilute COVID and other virus particles in the air.
- Don’t share.
Sharing during the time of COVID is something we don’t want to do. Think of all the things many people touch at a gathering, such as serving utensils, beverage pitchers, door knobs, refrigerator handles, remote controls, and game pieces. Consider how you can prevent several people from touching or at least touching the germs on these items. Perhaps one person can be in charge of serving everyone, for example. Or give each person a paper towel to use to open the refrigerator or touch door knobs. Using hand sanitizer is also a good idea.
- Socially distance.
If you choose to get together in person, still social distance by keeping six feet between each person at the gathering. Consider having different households at different, distanced tables during the meal.
The holidays are a time to connect with those you love. This year that connection may look a little different, but by following these guidelines, you can celebrate and connect in a way that helps to keep everyone safe.