Celebrating the holidays safely

HealthBeat

In just over two weeks, families and friends will gather for Thanksgiving.

But with the pandemic ongoing, what are health officials recommending ahead of the holiday season?

Danielle Cooper will likely spend Thanksgiving with a group of close friends in Sioux Falls.

“Four or five of us having dinner, at least just being with people on a special day that people celebrate,” Sioux Falls resident Danielle Cooper said.

While she doesn’t usually travel home to Texas to visit family for the November holiday, others may be wondering if they should stick to their traditional family gatherings.

“We’re not asking people not to gather. We’re asking them to gather safely,” Avera Medical Group Chief Medical Officer Dr. Kevin Post said.

Avera Medical Group Chief Medical Officer Dr. Kevin Post says you should avoid high-risk activities like large gatherings and potlucks, and instead scale it down.

“When we think of low-risk activities it’d be small groups with your immediate household contacts. There’s a lot of travel going on, people coming in from a ways, a distance away. Just be aware that even though they may be close family, they may not be what’s considered close contacts for this time of the year. And that doesn’t mean they’re not present, they just should be present in a safe way,” Post said.

That means social distancing, masking up, and washing your hands.

Post says having a plan for the holidays and letting your guests know about it ahead of time will be key.

That will help keep you and your loved ones safe.

“We’ve struggled to stay in contact, so as we go into this season I think now more than ever we need to make sure we do have that connection with our family and with our friends and just be very open with each other, how we should do this and do this safely,” Post said.

That’s what Cooper will keep in mind as she heads to Texas for Christmas.

“As long as I take my safety precautions and do what is recommended, I don’t see why people shouldn’t go see their families,” Cooper said.

The CDC also has guidance on holiday gatherings, including limiting the number of guests, wearing masks, and avoiding handshakes and hugs with people outside your household.

You can read the full list here.

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