By Robert Preidt
MONDAY, Nov. 16, 2020 (HealthDay News) — Despite skyrocketing coronavirus infection rates, many Americans plan to attend large holiday gatherings, a nationwide survey finds.
Nearly two in five respondents said they will likely gather with more than 10 people, according to the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center poll.
And while many plan to take precautions — such as social distancing and asking those with COVID-19 symptoms not to attend holiday gatherings — one-third of respondents said they won’t ask guests to wear masks.
The United States is seeing record numbers of coronavirus infections, and colder weather is leading to more get-togethers indoors, where the virus can more easily spread.
“We’re going to look back at what happened during this holiday season and ask ourselves, ‘Were we part of the solution or were we part of the problem?'” said Dr. Iahn Gonsenhauser, chief quality and patient safety officer at the Wexner Medical Center.
“When you’re gathered together around the table, engaged in conversation, sitting less than six feet apart with your masks down, even in a small group, that’s when the spread of this virus can really happen,” he warned in a university news release.
The safest way to mark the holidays is to cancel in-person plans with family and friends, and connect virtually instead, Gonsenhauser advised.
If you do decide to host a gathering, it’s crucial to create a safety plan and outline it to all your guests, he added.
Measures could include having everyone wear masks at all times; separating seating arrangements by household; and assigning one or two people to serve the food. The same precautions should be used even if your holiday event is held outdoors, Gonsenhauser said.
If you plan to travel or host out-of-town guests, monitor COVID-19 rates and restrictions in both locations.
“If you have someone in your household who’s high risk and you’re in a low-incidence area, you’re going to want to think twice about having a celebration where people are coming from an area where there’s a lot of virus in the community,” Gonsenhauser said.
For more on COVID-19, go to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
SOURCE: Ohio State University, news release, Nov. 12, 2020