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Happy family sending kisses while making video call over laptop on Thanksgiving at home.

Holiday Safety and COVID-19

Author: CHKD Medical Group, Dr. Andria Wallen
Published Date: Monday, November 16, 2020

By Dr. Andria Wallen, Chesapeake Pediatrics

November is usually the time to go over the river and through the woods to celebrate Thanksgiving at your grandmother’s house.

This is no ordinary year though, and COVID-19 presents dangers you should consider when making holiday plans. Don’t travel if you are sick or if you have been around someone with COVID-19 in the past 14 days.

It’s important to remember that travel in and of itself puts a person at risk for getting and spreading the virus that causes COVID-19. Staying home is the best way to protect your family and others from the virus.

If you do travel, review these low-to-high risk considerations provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Lower risk activities

  • Have a small dinner with the people who live in your household.
  • Prepare traditional family recipes, especially for those at higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19. Deliver them in a way that doesn’t involve contact with others.
  • Have a virtual dinner and share recipes with friends and family.
  • Shop online rather than in person on the day after Thanksgiving or the next Monday.
  • Watch sports events, parades, and movies from home.

Moderate risk activities

  • Have a small outdoor dinner with family and friends who live in your community.
  • Encourage social distancing by gathering outdoors.
  • Arrange chairs and tables to allow for social distancing.
  • When guests arrive, don’t shake hands or give hugs. Wave and verbally greet people.
  • Provide hand sanitizer in addition to showing people clearly marked hand-washing areas.
  • Limit the number of people preparing food, or have everyone bring their own food and drinks.
  • Visit pumpkin patches or orchards where people use hand sanitizer, maintain social distance, and wear masks.
  • Attend a small outdoor sports events with safety precautions in place.

Higher risk activities

Avoid these higher risk activities to help prevent the spread of the virus:

  • Shopping in crowded stores just before, on, or after Thanksgiving.
  • Participating or being a spectator at a crowded race or sporting event.
  • Attending crowded parades.
  • Using alcohol or drugs, which can cloud judgement and increase risky behaviors.
  • Attending large indoor gatherings with people from outside of your household.

Tips to stay safe while traveling

If you decide to travel, follow these safety measures to protect yourself and others:

  • Wear masks.
  • Stay six feet away from people outside your household.
  • Wash your hands frequently.

Airports, bus stations, train stations, and rest stops are all places travelers can be exposed to the virus, so be cautious in those areas as well.

Air travel:

Do some research on airlines before making reservations in order to choose one that has safety measures in place for COVID-19 prevention. Check guidelines and restrictions in the state you are traveling to, because some states require quarantine upon arrival. Make sure you keep your mask on during the flight and avoid removing it to eat or drink while you are close to others.

Standing in security lines and in airport terminals can bring you in close contact with other people. Make sure you are practicing social distancing, wearing masks, and washing your hands frequently. Most viruses do not spread easily on flights because of how air circulates and is filtered on airplanes. However, it can be difficult keep six feet from others, and flights can be hours long, so practice social distancing and wear a mask.

Bus or train travel:

Traveling on buses and trains for any length of time can involve sitting or standing within six feet of others, which increases your risk. Try to skip a row from others if possible. Limit touching surfaces, such as handrails, restroom surfaces, and benches. Use touchless payment when possible.

Consider traveling during non-peak hours. Enter and exit buses through rear entry doors if possible. After you leave the transit station, use hand sanitizer. Wash your hands with soap and water when you get to your destination.

Car travel:

If you’re traveling by car, stick with your own household members. Making stops along the way for gas, food, or bathroom breaks can put you in close contact with other people and surfaces that are frequently touched. Improve ventilation in the car by opening the windows or setting the air ventilation or air conditioner on non-recirculation mode.

Tips when staying in hotels

  • Use online reservations, check-ins, and payment, if possible.
  • Wear a mask in the lobby or other common areas.
  • Minimize use of break rooms, outside patios, inside lounging areas, dining areas, game rooms, pools, hot tubs, saunas, and fitness centers.
  • Consider taking the stairs. Otherwise, wait to use the elevator when you ride alone or with people from your household.

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About CHKD Medical Group

About CHKD Medical  Group Children’s Hospital of The King’s Daughters has been the region’s most trusted name in pediatric care for more than 50 years. As members of CHKD Health System, our pediatricians work closely with CHKD’s full range of pediatric specialists and surgeons. They also share a commitment to quality, excellence and child-centered care. With 18 practices in 29 locations throughout the region, a CHKD pediatrician is never far.