As we plan for fall and winter holiday celebrations, we have to continue to take into account CDC guidelines pertaining to COVID-19. The CDC offers considerations to help protect our residents as well as individuals and their families, friends, and communities from COVID-19. While are our facility is not open to families and friends joining our residents quite yet for holiday celebrations, we want you to know we will continue to do our best to assist with window visits, phone calls, facetimes, and even scheduled in-person visits. We also want to encourage our staff and families to continue to stay safe so that the threat never reaches our facility. When planning to host a holiday celebration in your own home, assess current COVID-19 levels in the community to determine whether to postpone, cancel, or limit the number of attendees.
Celebrating holidays virtually or with members of your own household poses low risk for spread. In-person gatherings pose varying levels of risk. There are several factors that contribute to the risk of getting infected or infecting others with the virus. In combination, these factors will create various amounts of risk, so it is important to consider them individually and together:
Community levels of COVID-19 – Higher levels of COVID-19 cases and community spread in the gathering location, as well as where attendees are coming from, increase the risk of infection and spread among attendees. Family and friends should consider the number and rate of COVID-19 cases in their community and in the community where they plan to celebrate when considering whether to host or attend a holiday celebration. Information on the number of cases in an area can be found by contacting the local health department. www.nacho.org/membership/lhd-directory
The location of the gathering – Indoor gatherings generally pose more risk than outdoor gatherings. Indoor gatherings with poor ventilation pose more risk than those with good ventilation, such as those with open windows or doors.
The duration of the gathering – Gatherings that last longer pose more risk than shorter gatherings.
The number of people at the gathering – Gatherings with more people pose more risk than gatherings with fewer people. The size of a holiday gathering should be determined based on the ability to reduce or limit contact between attendees, the risk of spread between attendees, and state and local health laws and regulations.
The locations attendees are traveling from – Gatherings with attendees who are traveling from different places pose a higher risk than gatherings with attendees who live in the same area. Higher levels of COVID-19 cases and community spread in the gathering location, or where attendees are coming from, increase the risk of infection and spread among attendees.
The behaviors of attendees prior to the gathering – Gatherings with attendees who are not adhering to social distancing (staying at least 6 feet apart), mask wearing, hand washing, and other prevention behaviors pose more risk than gatherings with attendees who are engaging in these preventative behaviors.
The behaviors of attendees during the gathering – Gatherings with more preventive measures in place, such as mask wearing, social distancing, and hand washing, pose less risk than gatherings where fewer or no preventive measures are being implemented.
Those Who Should Not Attend Holiday Gatherings
People with or exposed to COVID-19- Do not host or participate in any in-person festivities if you or anyone in your household
Has been diagnosed with COVID-19 and has not met the criteria for when it is safe to be around others
Is waiting for COVID-19 test results that are not simply protocol
May have been exposed to someone with COVID-19 in the last 14 days
Is at increased risk of severe illness from COVID-19
People at increased risk for severe illness should:
Avoid in-person gatherings with people who do not live in your household.
Avoid larger gatherings and consider attending activities that pose lower risk if you decide to attend an in-person gathering with people who do not live in your household.
Below are some considerations for hosting a holiday celebration:
Host outdoor activities rather than indoor activities as much as possible. If hosting an outdoor event is not possible, and you choose to host an indoor event, avoid crowded, poorly ventilated, or fully enclosed indoor spaces.
Increase ventilation by opening windows and doors to the extent that is safe and feasible based on the weather.
Host activities with only people from your local area as much as possible.
Limit numbers of attendees as much as possible.
Provide or encourage attendees to bring supplies to help you and others stay healthy such as masks, hand sanitizer, and tissues.
Consider asking all guests to strictly avoid contact with people outside of their households for 14 days before the gathering.
Limit people going in and out of the areas where food is being prepared or handled, such as in the kitchen or around the grill, if possible.
Wear a mask while preparing or serving food to others who don’t live in your household.
If serving any food, consider having one person serve all the food so that multiple people are not handling the serving utensils.
Use single-use options or identify one person to serve sharable items, like salad dressings, food containers, plates and utensils, and condiments.
Avoid any self-serve food or drink options, such as buffets or buffet-style potlucks, salad bars, and condiment or drink stations. Use grab-and-go meal options, if available.
If you choose to use any items that are reusable (seating covers, tablecloths, linen napkins), wash and disinfect them after the event.
If you decide to travel for holiday gatherings, follow these safety measures during your trip to protect yourself and others from COVID-19:
Wear a mask to keep your nose and mouth covered when in public places.
Avoid close contact by staying at least 6 feet apart (about 2 arms’ length) from anyone who is not from your household.
Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use hand sanitizer (with at least 60% alcohol).
Avoid contact with anyone who is sick.
Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
Do not use a costume mask (such as for Halloween) as a substitute for a cloth mask unless it is made of two or more layers of breathable fabric that covers your mouth and nose and doesn’t leave gaps around your face.
Do not wear a costume mask over a cloth mask because it can be dangerous if the costume mask makes it hard to breathe. Instead, consider using a Halloween-themed cloth mask.
Lower risk Halloween activities:
Carving or decorating pumpkins with members of your household or friends at a safe distance
Decorating your house, apartment, or living space
Doing a Halloween scavenger hunt where children are given lists of Halloween-themed things to look for while they walk outdoors from house to house admiring Halloween decorations at a distance
Having a Halloween movie night with people you live with
Moderate risk activities:
Participating in one-way trick-or-treating where individually wrapped goodie bags are lined up for families to grab and go while continuing to social distance (such as at the end of a driveway or at the edge of a yard)
Having a small group, outdoor, open-air costume party where protective masks are used and people are distanced more than 6 feet apart
Going to an open-air, one-way, walk-through haunted forest where appropriate mask use is enforced, and people can remain more than 6 feet apart
Visiting pumpkin patches where people use hand sanitizer before touching pumpkins or picking apples, wearing masks is encouraged or enforced, and people are able to maintain social distancing
Having an outdoor Halloween movie night with local family friends with people spaced at least 6 feet apart
Higher risk activities:
Participating in traditional trick-or-treating where treats are handed to children who go door to door
Having trunk-or-treat where treats are handed out from trunks of cars lined up in large parking lots
Attending crowded costume parties held indoors
Going to an indoor haunted house where people may be crowded together and screaming
Going on hayrides or tractor rides with people who are not in your household