Celebrate Safely this Holiday Season
Michael Parry, MD, Director, Department of Infectious Diseases and Asha Shah, MD, Associate Director, Department of Infectious Diseases
Committed to Your Safety
Stamford Health is dedicated to stopping the spread of infectious diseases such as COVID-19. Get service updates, answers to questions and learn how to help in the greater Stamford CT community.
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You may be wondering how you can embrace the holidays in the face of a global health crisis. Here’s what Stamford Health Infectious Disease leadership has to say about making your holidays memorable and fun, safely.
“Hibernation is very good and considered to be quite safe,” according to a quote in an article in the Stamford Advocate.
All kidding aside, however, everyone needs to be very careful. That means using common sense and following guidelines from the CDC so we can all do our best to avoid another COVID-19 surge.
1. First, check the COVID-19 positivity rates in your area before considering a gathering.
It's important to pay attention to the numbers and to the advice from local leaders. If positive cases and transmission rates are high, we all need to put safety first.
- Keep gatherings small and maintain 6 feet of distance, even around extended family.
- Make sure everyone attending the gathering, regardless of the size of the gathering, has been following CDC advice for COVID-19 infection prevention and has not traveled to high-risk areas designated by the Connecticut governor's office.
- Follow any travel-related quarantine advice.
- Avoid sharing food and, instead, serve meals and appetizers on individual plates. If you can, open a window to increase circulation or eat outdoors around a bonfire or heater.
2. If you're traveling, consider the following.
Stating the obvious: staying home is your best bet if your goal is to avoid getting sick. But if you’re planning on traveling to see loved ones, or if your loved ones are visiting you, go down this checklist before you set your plans in stone:
- Stay on top of this list of high-risk locations which is updated every week.
- Ask loved ones about the safety measures they are taking before your visit.
- Remember, any method of transportation is an enclosed space. Wear your masks at all times when you’re in close quarters with others unless they live with you and have been taking appropriate precautions. If you’re driving, keep the windows open whenever possible to let fresh air in and avoid using the “recirculate air” button in the car.
3. Wash your hands and have fun with it.
We all know the CDC advises us to wash our hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. (An alcohol-based sanitizer is also effective.) Here’s a good one for the family: play 20 seconds of your favorite holiday songs and commit to washing your hands to the beat. Create a playlist to mix it up or invent your own version. Here’s an idea (lyricist anonymous):
Oh, the virus outside is frightful.
But this hand soap smells so delightful.
And since we’ve no place to go,
Don’t let it grow, wash your hands, yes you know.
4. Get creative and virtual with baking.
Holiday baking and sharing in the treats doesn't have to stop completely.
- When you make cookies this year, think of shapes that remind you of safety and care such as stethoscopes, hearts, doctors, nurses and masks.
- Reimagine your cookie exchange.
- COVID-19 does not spread through food, so the cookies themselves aren’t the issue. But that doesn’t mean it’s safe to deliver plates of cookies around town. You can drop cookies off on a loved one’s doorstep, and they can grab them after you’ve left and sanitized the container. Remember to always wash your hands before and after handling food, utensils or plates to avoid transmission of the virus from these items.
- Virtual cookie-making parties with your friends and family is another great option.
- The mail is another safe way to be in touch with loved ones. Write out your favorite cookie recipes on some cards.
5. Catch a drive-by display.
Drive-by gatherings and celebrations are becoming more and more popular. Harness the power of social media like Facebook and Nextdoor to find out what everyone in the neighborhood is doing to deck out their homes.
Then, hop in the car with your immediate family and experience the magic.
6. Finally, manage stress the best you can.
It’s always a good idea to prioritize your emotional wellbeing so you can take better care of yourself and others during challenging times and all the time.
Here are some ways to stay grounded in uncertain times.
Happy, safe holidays from the Stamford Health family to you and yours.