With the distribution of COVID-19 vaccines starting, it appears that there is a light at the end of the tunnel. That light, however, might still be far off since it will take a while to get the vaccine available to everyone and a large population vaccinated. With this in mind, it seems the winter holidays will look a little different from previous years, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has a few tips and tricks for celebrating this year!
Wear a mask. Wear a mask, both indoors and outdoors, with two or more layers to stop the spread of COVID-19. This mask not only helps to protect yourself but also protects those around you. Make sure to wear the mask over your mouth AND nose, secure it under your chin and make sure it fits snugly against the side of your face. If you have had a mask for a while and it is loose-fitting, you should get a new one that is more fitted. In cold weather, situate your mask under your scarf, ski mask or balaclava.
Stay at least 6 feet away from others who don’t live with you. Indoors or outdoors, you are more likely to get or spread COVID-19 when you are in close contact with others for a total of 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period. Remember that people without symptoms or with a recent negative test result can still spread COVID-19 to others.
Avoid crowded, poorly ventilated indoor spaces. As much as possible, avoid crowds and indoor spaces that do not offer fresh air from the outdoors as much as possible. If indoors, bring in fresh air by opening windows and doors, if possible.
Wash your hands. Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after you have been in a public place, after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing and before eating. Afterward, make sure to use a clean towel and dry your hands completely. If soap and water are not readily available, use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
Get a flu shot. If you have not already, set aside time to get a flu shot. The flu shot can help protect you and your family, friends and community from getting and spreading the flu. By getting a flu shot, you can also help lower hospital visits and serious health problems from the flu.
Though we can continue to take precautions, it is still safest to celebrate with those in your immediate household. These times can be difficult when you can’t see everyone you want to, so the CDC recommends finding creative ways to celebrate. Perhaps the most common alternative is to host a virtual gift exchange and celebration where everyone can still catch up and share memories in a safe way.
If you’re burnt out on virtual gatherings, this could be a great time to unplug and spend time with your immediate family. Take the time off as an opportunity to get outside and play or take a walk around the neighborhood, just make sure to bundle up! You could also use this as a time to give back to others by volunteering. We encourage you to check any precautions an organization may have to make sure it’s a safe environment.
Finally, no matter what route you take, make sure to take some time to rest. This year has been draining on everyone for several reasons, so as you prepare for 2021, make sure to set aside time to relax and re-center yourself.
Wishing you all happy holidays from Northeast Missouri Health Council!