Celebrating Holidays Safely During a Pandemic

Published on November 16, 2020

Celebrating Holidays Safely During a Pandemic

COVID-19 remains a significant threat, and it is important that we stay safe during this holiday season.

In an effort to protect the health of our communities, Bronson Healthcare is encouraging community members to be mindful this upcoming holiday season.

Holiday gatherings have typically been a time to spend with family and friends. Unfortunately this year, gatherings like these can present a risk for spreading or contracting COVID-19. To keep yourself and your loved ones safe and healthy, it is wise to keep celebrations to just your household.

The Michigan Department of Health & Human Services warns that while socializing with friends and family may feel safe, it's very risky as COVID-19 cases increase in Michigan.

Gatherings are safest outdoors. Per the new emergency order from the Michigan Department of Health & Human Services, households hosting indoor gatherings are limited to one other household at a time. In-person indoor gatherings may not exceed 10 people in total. These restrictions begin Wednesday, November 18, 2020 and last for three weeks.

First and foremost, if you are currently isolating for a COVID-19 infection or exposure, you should not attend any in-person events. Additionally, if you are at high-risk for severe illness, you should also not attend in-person.

Below are suggestions if you choose host or gather with others outside of your household.

If you are hosting an event:

  • Revise your guest list to no more than 10 people from no more than one other household.
    • Pick only one other household to see over the next three weeks. Consider forming a consistent social pod.
    • Choose a household that is also practicing safety precautions.
  • If weather permits, host your event outdoors.
  • Communicate expectations to guests.
  • Set the space so that all guests can easily stay 6 feet apart.
  • Request that guests wear a mask at all times, except when eating. Consider providing masks.
  • Clean and disinfect high-touch surfaces before and after the gathering.
  • Place waterless hand sanitizers around the area.
  • Limit the duration of the event — the shorter, the better.
    • For example, if you’re hosting a dinner, forego the appetizers and start dinner shortly after guests arrive.
  • Open the windows before guests arrive, while guests are present, and after guests leave to ventilate the area.
  • Do not share utensils.
  • Keep voices down and avoid shouting, cheering, singing and arguing.
  • Ask guests to have their flu vaccine at least two weeks before the event.
    • You can get your flu vaccine from your primary care provider, Bronson walk-in clinic or other area organizations/retailers.
    • Encourage guests to control and minimize their exposure to the public and others outside of their household 14 days prior the event and 14 days after the event.
    • Remind family and friends that these changes are for everyone’s safety.

If you are invited to an event:

  • Control and minimize your exposure to the public and others outside of your household 14 days prior the event and 14 days after the event.
  • Wear a mask at all times, except when eating.
  • Stay 6 feet away from other guests.
  • Wash your hands frequently.
  • Get your flu vaccine at least two weeks before the event.
    • You can get your flu vaccine from your primary care provider, Bronson walk-in clinic or other area organizations/retailers.
  • If you are traveling to the event, observe the CDC’s safe travel guidelines.

“Daily COVID-19 positive cases continue to increase in southwest Michigan. It is imperative we all take these extra steps, not only to protect ourselves and loved ones, but avoid potentially large spikes in December and January,” says Richard Van Enk, Ph.D., Director of Infection Prevention and Epidemiology for Bronson. “Those months are also when we have historically seen a rise in flu cases. Should that and a large increase in COVID-19 hospitalizations happen, we could see devastating effects to health care systems across our country.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, much of the current spread of COVID-19 is happening at relatively small gatherings amongst friends and families. Often the source of exposure is a person or child who cannot or will not take the necessary safety precautions recommended for COVID-19.

Remember, it is okay to decline an invitation if you do not think all safety precautions can be followed. It is also okay to cancel a holiday gathering, even if there is an expectation from others or if it is an annual event you have hosted for several years. The highest priority right now is to keep everyone safe.

Learn more about the CDC’s recommendations for celebrating safely and the November 18 order from the Michigan Department of Health & Human Services.

If you are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms and need to be tested, call a Bronson Care Advisor at (269) 341-7788. Learn more about COVID-19 testing, symptoms and prevention measures, visit bronsonhealth.com/covid.

Want a printable flyer with information on safe celebrations? Click here.

MDHHS Guidelines

This graphic provided by the Michigan Department of Health & Human Services. Learn more.