We have cancelled or postponed vacations. We have worn masks and endlessly washed our hands. Fewer kids went trick-or-treating this year, and those who did had an experience very different from prior years.
We have all made sacrifices as we attempt to keep ourselves and one another healthy and to put an end to the COVID-19 pandemic. Many months of living through the pandemic have resulted in loneliness and loss of connection, particularly for those who are trying to balance parenting, homeschooling and work. We are all tired of this, to say the least – and now it’s the holiday season.
We are going to have to make difficult decisions about traditional family celebrations because even small gatherings have been associated with spread of the novel coronavirus. The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently issued updated guidance for the holidays. These tips for in-person gatherings include continuing mitigation measures, such as holding events outdoors, limiting their size, having participants wear masks (especially indoors) and maintaining social distance. The CDC also encourages hosts to request that guests avoid contact with people from outside their household for two weeks before the activity.
Other experts recommend that families in separate households meet in their homes at the same time and connect through a videoconferencing platform such as Zoom, which might give a sense of sharing the holiday.
If members of different households congregate inside, opening windows would at least improve ventilation and could help diffuse the virus, reducing the chances of contagion.
The impracticality of some of the safety measures will probably lead many to ignore these guidelines. It’s hard to fit everybody at a table 6 feet apart or to eat a meal outdoors in November in the Midwest. But these are the precautions we must all consider.
It’s been a challenging year, and winter is shaping up to be even more difficult than the preceding seasons in terms of COVID-19. Above the normal need to be with others, the holidays bring with them the legacy of family traditions. Please be careful, respect the threat of the coronavirus and have a great – albeit a 2020 – holiday.
For more information or to find a pediatrician, visit mercy.net/laduenews.
Dr. Joseph Kahn is president of Mercy Kids (mercykids.org), an expansive network of pediatric care dedicated to meeting the needs of every child, every day.