Stay Home for the Holidays; Prioritize Safety by Celebrating Virtually

The nostalgic scent of home-cooked meals, a mug of apple cider warming your fingers, and the laughter of friends and family used to signal the arrival of the holidays. This year, with COVID-19 considerations at the forefront of the public health dialogue, things are looking a little different. We’re all exhausted from the many months we’ve sustained with minimal social interaction, and the holidays seem like the perfect escape from the stress surrounding the pandemic. However, no matter how in need of a break we are, COVID-19 isn’t taking time off for the holiday season, so neither can we. In these coming months, it’s increasingly important that we take precautionary measures to ensure the table is full during the next holiday season.

If possible, we need to celebrate virtually or with members of our own households. Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) and a lead member of the current administration’s Coronavirus Task Force, cautions that indoor gatherings can drive up coronavirus transmission rates. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends scheduling times to host virtual gatherings and connecting with family through shared recipes and game nights. 

This pandemic is an opportunity to create new traditions, whether they be leaving food at the doorsteps of neighbors or hosting socially distanced movie nights with friends. While it may be hard to resign ourselves to virtual festivities, we need to face reality. If we want to resume our normal traditions in the future, we need to act responsibly now.

Annika Ross and Isabel Rubin-Saika

COVID-19 case rates are rapidly rising across the United States, with over 13 million documented cases. The decisions we make now will affect not only our own communities, but the future of our country as well. A study done by researchers at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center suggests that reducing in-person contact can reduce transmission rates by over 50 percent. Continuing mitigation measures like social distancing over the holidays will have an enormous impact on the safety of our loved ones, and is key to bringing an end to the pandemic. This holiday season, we’re all going to have to make hard decisions, and the best ones may not feel the best in the moment. 

 We must weigh the short-term joys of seeing our loved ones for the holidays with the long-term loss of never seeing them again.

We can’t just think about this holiday season. We must weigh the short-term joys of seeing our loved ones for the holidays with the long-term loss of never seeing them again. The personal sacrifices that we make today ensure the longevity and health of our communities. 

No matter how we each decide to celebrate the holidays this year, there’s one clear commonality; our normal traditions will be disrupted. Many routines that once provided us a sense of normalcy and helped us to cope with the chaos of the holiday season are now impossible. The good news is that you’re not alone. 

During this pandemic, one thing is certain. We must prioritize our long-term safety, both in medical and mental health. Staying socially distant and adhering to CDC guidelines is necessary if we want to see a reduction in COVID-19 cases, but we can still create new traditions and develop strategies to stay connected with our friends and family.

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