Although Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas, and other celebrations are sure to look a little different again this year, things aren’t looking nearly as ominous as they were in 2020! On Friday, October 15th, the CDC updated its guidance for safe Holiday Celebrations. This year’s holiday guidance ensures that with a few precautions, you’ll still be able to gather with family.
So, what is considered safe, and what could be a bit risky this winter? Here’s how to keep yourself and your loved ones safe this holiday season, based on recommendations from the CDC.
Most importantly…Get vaccinated!
Because many generations tend to gather to celebrate holidays, the best way to minimize COVID-19 risk and keep your family and friends safer is to get vaccinated if you’re eligible.
At this time, there is still a percentage of our population that is unvaccinated, including children 11 and younger who aren’t yet eligible. By getting vaccinated, you are doing your part to keep these family members and friends safe.
If you haven’t yet gotten your vaccine, there is still time before Thanksgiving! To be fully vaccinated by Thursday, November 25th, you’ll need to get your first dose of Pfizer by Thursday, October 18th. Want to go the single-dose route? Get your Jonson & Johnson vaccine by November 11th.
To find a vaccine near you, go to https://vaccinelocator.doh.wa.gov/.
Outdoors is best. If indoors, wear a mask.
Outdoor gatherings are still safer than indoor gatherings since COVID-19 spreads more easily indoors than outdoors. Studies have also shown that people are more likely to be exposed to COVID-19 when they are closer than 6 feet apart from others for longer periods of time.
If possible, plan to host holiday gatherings outdoors or in well-ventilated spaces (think a garage with the door open, a back patio, or nearby park). If gathering indoors, plan for people 5 and older to wear well-fitting masks, especially if folks are not fully vaccinated. For kiddos 2-4 years old, a mask is also recommended at this time considering our high transmission rates.
Note: In Washington, masks are required to be worn by all people five and older, regardless of vaccination status, in indoor public spaces, and in outdoor settings with 500 or more people. Beginning on November 15th, masks will also be required at certain indoor and outdoor large, ticketed events.
If traveling, plan ahead and take precautions.
If you are considering traveling for the holidays this year, visit the CDC’s Travel page to help you decide what is best for you and your family.
Some things to note:
- The CDC still recommends delaying travel until you are fully vaccinated.
- If you are not fully vaccinated and must travel, follow the CDC’s domestic travel or international travel recommendations for unvaccinated people.
- Before you book a flight, check the Travel Planner for state, local, tribal, and territorial government restrictions.
- If you will be traveling in a group with unvaccinated people (including young children), choose safer travel options.
- Everyone—even people who are fully vaccinated—will be required to wear a mask on public transportation and follow international travel recommendations.
Plan to test for COVID-19 before you leave. And remember that testing appointments may be in high demand this holiday season, so if you need proof of a negative test, plan accordingly.
To find a testing location near you, go to www.skagitcounty.net/coronavirus.
Postpone if sick, and when in doubt…get tested!
If you are sick or have symptoms of COVID-19, don’t host or attend a gathering until your symptoms have cleared. It is better to postpone than to potential spread the virus to those you love. If, in the days prior to your gathering, you develop symptoms of COVID-19 or have had close contact with someone who has COVID-19, get tested!
So, what if you’ve attended a party or gathering and are now sick with symptoms?
If you are unvaccinated
- Stay home for 14 days after your last contact with a person who has COVID-19.
- Watch for fever (100.4°F), cough, shortness of breath, or other symptoms of COVID-19.
- If possible, stay away from others, especially people who are at higher risk for getting very sick from COVID-19.
If you are fully vaccinated
- Get tested 3-5 days after the exposure, even if you don’t have any symptoms.
- Wear a mask indoors in public for 14 days following the exposure or until your test result is negative.
The holidays are definitely doable this year, we just need to take a little extra precaution. Get vaccinated, wear a mask, gather outdoors if possible, and stay home if sick. It’s as easy as (pumpkin) pie!