Don’t invite COVID-19 into your home for the holidays

Famliy Christmas (Cleveland Clinic News Service)

As COVID-19 continues to spread, get-togethers, shared meals and travel carry extra risk for those we love.

Joseph Khabbaza, a critical care specialist at Cleveland Clinic, recommends erring on the side of caution when planning festivities this year.

“Being as safe as possible, there’s very little downside to that right now,” Dr. Khabbaza said. “That guilt that can occur if your event led to a loved one getting very sick, that’s tough, and that’s something, if the loved one does not recover, it can certainly weigh on groups of families long after the pandemic is gone.”

For those who do decide to have a holiday party, Khabbaza said it’s best to limit guests.

“Large family settings are going to have the potential to be events that lead to transmission of infections unknowingly, so, my main advice is to try to keep them pretty small,” he advises.

Parties often prompt laughter and spirited conversation, which generate more respiratory droplets. To reduce virus transmission risk, social distancing of at least six feet between guests, good ventilation and masking are recommended.

“That’s a tough sell to wear a mask at family gatherings, or perhaps in your own home, but it’s really an extra precaution to protect the most vulnerable,” Khabbaza said.

Gathering virtually may be the best way to go for families looking for a way to connect that’s sure to be safe.

“That would be the main way to feel like you’re together as a big group; still able to laugh with each other and see each other smile and wish each other well,” said Khabbaza. “And there’s going to be less clean-up for whoever is hosting, so that’s another positive.”

If you do decide to plan a small gathering with immediate family, Khabbaza said it’s important to know what your guests are doing in their day-to-day lives, so you can gauge the risk they’ll bring to the party.