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Celebrating the holidays safely

| News | COVID-19

A family in their kitchen in front of a laptop, virtually meeting with others.

The holiday season will look and feel much different this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

As you plan for fall and winter celebrations, PeaceHealth is urging you to stay safe by avoiding high-risk activities, including traveling or attending social gatherings outside of your household.

“Indoor gatherings with people and family you don’t normally associate with put everyone at high risk for contracting COVID-19,” said Catherine Kroll, PeaceHealth’s director of infection prevention. “The safest holiday celebrations are those that include only the people you are normally around, such as your immediate family.”

Sitting down for a meal or gathering with people outside your household can easily spread this virus, even if everyone feels well at the time, she said.

Consider hosting virtual events or activities. Some ideas include:

  • Hosting an online gathering using FaceTime, Zoom or other technology platforms. Do a rehearsal beforehand with guests to work through any technology issues.
  • Choose a favorite family recipe or create a new recipe tradition and follow along via FaceTime or Zoom.
  • Create an online album for sharing holiday photos and videos with friends and family.
  • Plan activities for your online gathering. Some ideas include a scavenger hunt, dance competition or stream a holiday movie together.

Evaluate the risks
If you are planning on hosting or attending a holiday gathering outside of your immediate household, it’s important to assess current COVID-19 levels in your area and risk levels outlined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Always follow masking, hand hygiene and social distancing guidelines at gatherings. Hosts should space guests 6 feet apart around the table and limit the use of shared utensils or self-serve options. Other precautions include:

  • Hosting or attending outdoor activities rather than indoor activities as much as possible.
  • Limiting the number of attendees as much as possible.
  • Consider strictly avoiding contact with people outside of your household for 14 days before a gathering – or asking all guests to do so – to reduce the risk of exposure to the virus.

Read more guidance from the CDC on holiday celebrations and small gatherings.

Holiday travel
Traveling increases the chance of getting and spreading COVID-19. Staying home is the best way to protect yourself and others. Please use the information from the following webpages to decide whether to go on holiday travel:

Exposure precautions
If you participate in higher risk activities or think that you may have been exposed, take extra precautions for 14 days after the event to protect others:

  • Stay home as much as possible.
  • Avoid being around people at increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19.
  • Consider getting tested for COVID-19 if you’re experiencing symptoms or have concerns about an active infection.

If you start experiencing fever, respiratory infection symptoms (e.g. cough) or other symptoms, please call your healthcare provider’s office before arriving or scheduling an appointment to determine the appropriate care setting and testing process. Your visit may be eligible for a video visit.

Call 911 if you have emergency signs such as trouble breathing, persistent pain or pressure in the chest, new confusion or inability to arouse, or bluish lips or face.

If you are waiting for your COVID-19 test results, please stay home until you have a result, and follow CDC’s guidance to help stop the spread of COVID-19.

About PeaceHealth: PeaceHealth, based in Vancouver, Wash., is a not-for-profit Catholic health system offering care to communities in Washington, Oregon and Alaska. PeaceHealth has approximately 16,000 caregivers, a group practice with more than 900 providers and 10 medical centers serving both urban and rural communities throughout the Northwest. In 1890, the Sisters of St. Joseph of Peace founded what has become PeaceHealth. The Sisters shared expertise and transferred wisdom from one medical center to another, always finding the best way to serve the unmet need for healthcare in their communities. Today, PeaceHealth is the legacy of the founding Sisters and continues with a spirit of respect, stewardship, collaboration and social justice in fulfilling its Mission.