CDC updates guidelines for safe holiday celebrations

Families and friends beginning to think about how to celebrate Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year have updated advice from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to consider.

Celebrating virtually is the safest, the CDC says, or celebrate with household members or outside while social distancing.

Attending in-person celebrations increases a person’s risk of catching or spreading COVID-19, especially as the country continues to work to contain the more contagious Delta variant.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, President Joe Biden’s chief medical adviser, said Sunday on CBS’s Face the Nation it is too soon to know for sure what the holidays should look like.

Dr. Fauci warned Sunday on CBS’s Face the Nation the turnaround should not make Americans complacent or lead to a decline in vaccination rates among those who are eligible.

“We’ve just got to concentrate on continuing to get those numbers down and not try to jump ahead by weeks or months and say what we’re going to do at a particular time,” Fauci said. “Let’s focus like a laser on continuing to get those cases down, and we can do it by people getting vaccinated. And also, in this situation where boosters are appropriate to get people boosted.”

The CDC recommends getting vaccinated as soon as possible, if eligible, and wearing a mask indoors while in public if you’re in any with a high transmission rate to avoid spreading the virus.

Here are some safe ways the health agency suggests to celebrate the holidays:

  • Decorate your home with holiday-themed items and banners.
  • Host a video chat party with family and friends to share in the celebration.
  • Plan a special meal with people who live with you inspired by the holiday or event.
  • Have an outdoor celebration with everyone at least 6 feet apart.
  • Watch virtual events and celebrations.
  • Drive or walk around your community to wave to neighbors from a safe distance.
  • Take a food or gift to family, friends, and neighbors in a way that does not involve contact with others, such as leaving them at the door.
  • Throw a virtual dance party and collaborate with friends and family on a playlist.
  • Volunteer to help others in need.
  • Attend a virtual ceremony or celebration.

For those who plan to celebrate in-person with people outside of their household, the CDC recommends taking the following steps:

  • Get vaccinated when you are eligible.
  • Know when to wear a mask.
  • If you are not fully vaccinated and aged 2 or older, you should wear a mask in indoor public places.
    • In general, you do not need to wear a mask in outdoor settings.
    • In areas with high numbers of COVID-19 cases, consider wearing a mask in crowded outdoor settings and for activities with close contact with others who are not fully vaccinated.
  • Outdoor activities are safer than indoor gatherings.
  • Have conversations ahead of time to understand expectations for celebrating together.
  • Do not attend or host a gathering if you are sick or have symptoms of COVID-19.
  • If celebrating indoors, bring in fresh air by opening windows and doors, if possible. You can use a window fan in one of the open windows to blow air out of the window. This will pull fresh air in through the other open windows.

If you are traveling this holiday season, wait to do so until fully vaccinated, according to the CDC.

Everyone, regardless of vaccination status, are required to wear a mask while on public transportation. Try to avoid crowds and if possible stay at least 6 feet away from people who are not traveling with you. The CDC also recommends washing your hands or using hand sanitizer frequently.

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