The holidays are fast approaching and like last year, COVID-19 cases are increasing which means that we need to be more thoughtful around planning our holiday visits to high risk or unvaccinated family members. Leading up to your visit, preparing and weighing the risk of places you plan to attend will help ensure everyone stays safe and healthy. Here are some things to consider as you make arrangements:
Many generations tend to gather to celebrate holidays and the best way to protect those not yet eligible for vaccination, such as young children, and those who are at risk of getting severely sick from COVID-19, is to get vaccinated. You need at least 2 weeks after your second shot before you are considered fully protected, so plan now!
Avoid Large Public Gatherings Two Weeks Before Your Holiday Celebration
Consider the risk of any activity you plan to attend. Large indoor gatherings, busy shopping malls, crowded airports or poorly ventilated spaces that last longer than 15 minutes pose more risk of spreading COVID-19. Staying outdoors, interacting with less people and social distancing for two weeks before the visit will reduce the risk that you are unknowingly bringing sickness with you to your holiday celebration.
Wear a Mask Every Time You are in Public Two Weeks Prior to Your Visit
Masks trap respiratory droplets that are released when the wearer talks, coughs or sneezes. They also act as a barrier to protect the wearer from inhaling droplets released by others. Even if you are vaccinated, wearing a mask indoors in public and outdoors in crowded areas or when you are in close contact with unvaccinated people will help prevent you from becoming infected before your visit.
Get Tested Immediately Before and After Traveling
Get tested with a viral test 1-3 days before your trip will ensure you don’t have COVID-19 and are asymptomatic. Once you return home or if you are experiencing any flu-like symptoms after traveling, no matter where you have gone, self-isolate until symptoms go away and get tested for COVID-19 right away. There are now multiple ways to be tested. Visit https://www.nchd.org/covid-testing for community testing locations or have tests delivered to your door by ordering FREE home tests from the state: https://covid19.colorado.gov/covid-19-testing-at-home. At-home tests can also be purchased over the counter at most pharmacies. Visit https://www.nchd.org/at-homecovid-19testing for guidance.
If You are Sick or Have Symptoms - Cancel
Be honest and don’t force yourself to push through if you don’t feel well. A fever, cough or other symptoms, might mean you have COVID-19 or you might have flu or some other illness. Honestly, sharing any illness isn’t a good idea. And while most people have mild illness and it may not seem too bad, there is a chance that it might be much more serious for certain family members. Canceling is better than infecting those you love with COVID-19.
Consider Your Travel Plans
If you or family members are not vaccinated, reconsider travel at all. Most forms of travel can make it easier for infection to spread. Although airflights are generally not the problem, busy airports with layovers, bus stations, buses, train stations, trains, public transport, gas stations, and restaurants where you take your mask off to eat, are all places where physical distancing may be challenging and ventilation may be poor. If the destination includes gathering with family or friends at someone’s house, infection can spread there as well. These are all issues to consider as you make your plans.
Northeast Colorado Health Department wishes you a safe and healthy holiday season!