The world is full of uncertainty these days. But if your family is thinking about gathering for the holidays with friends or relatives, these answers to common questions might help you stay safe.
They're from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, but we've paraphrased them in plainer English.
— What is the COVID-19 level in your community? The infection level will shape the overall risk level of your gathering.
— Where are you gathering? Indoors is riskier than outdoors; indoors with poor air circulation is worst of all.
— What's the duration of your gathering? Long ones are riskier than short ones.
— How many guests are you expecting? The fewer the people, the safer the event. Many jurisdictions have limits on how many people may gather in public.
— Where are your guests from? "Gatherings with attendees who are traveling from different places pose a higher risk than gatherings with attendees who live in the same area," the CDC says.
— How has this group behaved in the past? The less people tend to wash their hands, wear masks and keep distance, the greater the risk.
— How do you expect your guests to behave now? Do you want them to quarantine for 14 days before your holiday get-together? Do you want them to get COVID-tested beforehand? If you ask them to skip the hugs and wear a mask when they're not eating or drinking, will they?
As you face these questions, don't forget a simpler underlying concern: Is everyone healthy enough for this?
The CDC says the following people shouldn't join any in-person holiday celebrations: those suffering symptoms of COVID-19; those who have been diagnosed with the virus and have not met criteria for when it is safe to gather with others; people awaiting COVID-19 viral test results; people who may have been exposed to someone with the virus in the last 14 days; and people at increased risk of severe illness from the disease.