Public Health urges care in holiday planning

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With major winter holidays coming, preparing for celebrations during the COVID-19 pandemic requires even more planning than ever. Danielle Pettit-Majewski, director of the Washington County Public Health Department, notes that “…traditional plans of getting 40 loved ones together at someone’s house is not at the top of the “least risky” list.”

She said staying home and participating in virtual celebrations is the best way to protect yourself and others. If you must travel and get together in-person with loved ones, be informed of the risks involved.”

Planning is essential.  So consider the following for a get-together:

• limit the number invited;

• stay home if anyone is feeling the slightest bit ill, awaiting test results, or has been exposed to someone with COVID-19 in the last 14 days;

• gather outdoors if at all possible;

• make sure the gathering location allows for enough space between people.;

• indoors, open windows to improve air flow;

• determine a seating plan ahead of time to keep six feet between each household;

•do not use shared serving utensils;

•wear masks while together.; and

•have plenty of paper towels, soap and hand sanitizer available.

If you are traveling, cancel plans or  your trip if someone isn’t feeling well, awaiting test results or has been exposed.

Also, avoid larger crowds, including mass transit, consider another time of year to travel when it is less likely to be busy or congested and most of all before making any travel-related purchases or bookings, learn about the company’s COVID-19 prevention efforts and cancellation or refund policies.

If traveling alone, bring hand sanitizer to use after stopping for breaks, wear masks and crack open windows. If going with others, stay with members of your own household.

Remember, there is a higher risk of spreading COVID-19 as groups get larger, closer together, and gather for longer timeframes, especially indoors.

It is very important that if you feel ill at all, have been in contact with someone who has COVID-19 or has symptoms of COVID-19, to stay home. When going out wear a mask over your mouth and nose that is tight fitting with more than one layer; avoid small spaces that do not allow for six feet of distancing; stay at least six feet away from those who do not live in your home, and wash or sanitize your hands often.

Even more, get a flu shot. This year, it may help even more than ever.

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