Staying safe from COVID-19 during the holiday season

November through December is a time when many individuals travel to see their loved ones, but with social distancing and safety guidelines due to COVID-19, they will be interacting in a completely different way this year.

According to guidance released by the California Department of Public Health on Nov. 13, gatherings that include more than three households are prohibited. This includes everyone present, including hosts and guests. Remember, the smaller the number of people, the safer.”

When visiting during the holidays, friends and family typically make close contact by greeting one another with hugs and kisses, but medical professionals recommend otherwise.

“When you get together, we have to not have direct contact still, [including] handshakes and hugs, maintain that social distancing as best as you can,” Julie Poepoe, family nurse practitioner, said.

Established guidelines implemented by The Center for Disease Control (CDC) and Prevention suggest that individuals can safely celebrate the holidays and minimize the spread of COVID-19 by hosting limited outdoor gatherings, wearing a mask, using disposable utensils, sanitizing surfaces constantly and staying six feet apart.

“I got invited to a friend’s house, but I am not sure yet [about going] because of COVID-19. I don’t want to get sick. My immune system is very weak, and I can’t afford to be in a hospital, so I’d rather stay home,” Kia Toney, child development major, said.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention advises that it is best to stay at home and not travel, as traveling increases the risk and spread of COVID-19.

“Traveling with the risk of transmission of COVID-19 is even more risky, support your immune system by staying hydrated and sleep[ing],” Poepoe said. “Do not touch your face, wear a mask at all times, have your hand sanitizer available at all times.”

If individuals have no other alternative but to travel, the CDC recommends tracking COVID-19 cases seven days before in the destined location and washing their clothes and masks upon arrival. Additional guidelines for staying safe while traveling can be found on the CDC website.

Visits and travel are not the only things that have been affected due to COVID- 19, as annual in-person holiday events have also been canceled.

“Candy Cane Lane is a place where there are lights and everything, it got canceled. That’s a thing that me and my friends usually go to, it’s going to be sad not going for the first time in forever,” Allison Pickard, business major, said.

Although these in-person events were canceled, some businesses are utilizing Eventbrite to provide the public with local events, such as drive-ins, Christmas drive-through lights displays and virtual workshops, so that people can celebrate the holidays while staying safe with specific guidelines implemented.

There are alternatives to celebrating the holidays that include being safe at home, such as hosting virtual holiday parties via Zoom, texting friends and family members holiday greetings, and making phone calls to loved ones, Poepoe said.

“Usually, we have this huge get-together at my grandma’s house,” Josiah Edwards, political science major, said. “The fact that we have to cut down, [and] it’s my grandma’s favorite time of the year, combined with the fact that [Thanksgiving] is supposed to land on my mom’s birthday, it’s just really hard.”