In response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the State of Utah released guidelines for holiday gatherings this year.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has been stressful and isolating for many people. Gatherings during the upcoming holidays may be an opportunity to reconnect with family and friends,” the Utah Coronavirus Task Force shared. “This holiday season, consider how your holiday plans can be modified to reduce the spread of COVID-19 to keep your friends, families and communities healthy and safe. Regrettably, the situation is worsening and small household gatherings are an unfortunate contributor to the rise in COVID-19 cases.”
The task force said that the more people from different households a person interacts with at a gathering, the closer the physical interaction is and the longer the interactions last, the higher the risk that a person who has COVID-19 may spread it to others.
“One of the reasons that COVID-19 continues to spread at social gatherings may be from the misconception that small social gatherings with people close to you, such as friends, neighbors or extended family, are safe options,” the task force shared. “However, that is not necessarily the case if you aren’t taking precautions, such as physical distancing and wearing masks. Any time you bring people together from different households, it significantly increases your risk for infection, especially when infection rates are as high as they presently are.”
The statement continued, stressing that the safest option is to limit celebrations to the people you live with and include others virtually. However, members of the task force understand that some may choose to host a holiday gathering that includes people who don’t live in their home. They encouraged people to take the following precautions:
- The smaller the number of people, the safer.
- Only invite people you’re around often. You reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19 when you limit the amount of people you are in close contact with.
- Avoid going to multiple gatherings with people from different households.
- The host should keep a list of the names and contact information for anyone who attends the gathering in case contact tracing is needed later.
The task force also stressed that there are situations where people should not host or attend gatherings this holiday season. The situations include if you:
- Have symptoms of COVID-19 or are sick.
- May have been exposed to COVID-19 in the last 14 days.
- Are waiting for COVID-19 test results.
- Tested positive for COVID-19 and should be in isolation.
- Were exposed to COVID-19 and should be quarantined.
- Are at higher-risk for severe illness from COVID-19, or live or work with someone at higher-risk. You should not go to any holiday or social gatherings this fall with people who don’t live in your home if you are at higher-risk or live or work with someone at higher-risk. If you are at higher-risk or live or work with someone at higher-risk and decide to attend an in-person gathering with people who do not live in your home, consider lower-risk activities.
If you plan on gathering, it is recommended that attendees wear a mask and practice physical distancing. If possible, an outdoor gathering is encouraged. Gatherings are also recommended to be as short as possible to lessen the exposure time. Attendees are also encouraged to get a flu shot.
“Holiday gatherings not only increase your risk of getting COVID-19, but your risk of getting other infectious diseases as well,” the task force shared. “This fall and winter, getting a flu vaccine will be more important than ever since hospitals, clinics and doctors’ offices are likely to be busy caring for COVID-19 patients.”
Those gathering are encouraged to wash their hands frequently and use disposable items to limit cross contamination. Other recommendations include staying home as much as possible following a gathering and considering getting tested for COVID-19.
For a complete list of recommendations for the holidays, please click here.