For the holidays during a pandemic, you can’t beat home, sweet home.
But if opening gifts over Zoom doesn’t sound sufficient, experts at the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation have recommendations to ensure cheer is all you spread this holiday season.
1. Timely testing: “This is not the year to dismiss something as a common cold or allergies. The only way to rule out coronavirus is with a test. Even if you feel well, a test will show whether you’re asymptomatic,” said OMRF President Stephen Prescott, M.D.
But don’t proceed without other precautions if a test is negative, Prescott added. “Viruses build over days, and a test only tells us what viral load was at the moment a swab was inserted into your nose.”
2. Quaran-team effort: End-of-year holidays traditionally include longer stays, close quarters and indoor activities. That’s a family recipe for virus transmission, said OMRF immunologist Eliza Chakravarty, M.D., but those gathering can make it safer for one another with advance planning.
“If you’re attending extended in-person holiday events with people who don’t live with you, strictly avoiding contact with people outside of your home for two weeks before the event is the safest way to do so,” said Chakravarty.
3. Wheels over wings: “Studies have shown airplanes themselves are relatively safe because of air filtration,” said Prescott. “But a busy airport presents a significant risk with the potential for long lines and crowds.”
Driving is the best option for virus-free travel. If you must fly, Prescott suggests minimizing contact with others: Check in for your flight at home, bring your own food and stick to a carry-on bag.
4. Wearing is caring: “We’d get coal in our stockings if we didn’t remind everyone — one more time — to wear a mask,” said Chakravarty. “Any time you’re with people who live outside of your household, everyone should mask up.”
5. Stay ho-ho-home: With virus numbers surging across the country, the safest bet is to enjoy the holidays at home. And, says Prescott, remember that this is temporary. “Santa’s cookies might need to go on the front porch in 2020, but life will return to normal. Vaccines are on the horizon. Sacrificing traditions this year may ensure your whole family can gather next year.”