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Holidays and COVID-19: CDC recommends keeping gatherings small

Kelsey Shelton
Mount Shasta Herald
Thanksgiving is a time when families gather from  near and far.

Fall is upon us, and winter is not far behind. In Siskiyou County, citizens are already wondering what their kids' Halloween celebrations will be like. And what about Thanksgiving?

The Center for Disease Control this week released recommendations for those planning holiday celebrations. The main takeaway? Keep gatherings small, since traveling visitors pose the biggest risk for the spread of COVID-19.

The Siskiyou County Public Health Department is encouraging residents to follow the CDC's recommendations, according to a statement made by a Public Health representative earlier this week.

Will COVID-19 cancel Halloween, trick-or-treat and fall fun?

Halloween

According to the CDC website, “many traditional Halloween activities can be high-risk for spreading viruses.” The CDC recommends looking into safer, alternative ways to partake in this holiday festivity.

Biggest risks? Non-outdoor parties, door-to-door trick-or- treating, and trunk-or-treat events.

According to the CDC, these are considered higher risk activities due to the potential for non-mask wearing, and increased potential for virus transmission.

Other high risk activities include attending crowded parties indoors; indoor haunted houses where people are in close quarters and are potentially screaming and yelling; hayrides or tractor rides with strangers; and traveling to fall festivals, where there could be a risk of potential spread.

For those of you wondering what you can do, there are low to moderate risk activities listed.

Low risk activity, according to the CDC, includes carving or decorating pumpkins with members of your household; decorating homes, apartments or other living spaces; holding a scavenger hunt at the home where children are given a list of things to find while they are outdoors distancing; hold a virtual celebration or costume contest; and holding movie nights in the home with those who live in the home.

Moderate risk activity includes things such as one-way trick-or-treating, where bags are prepared beforehand and are kept distanced for trick-or-treaters; holding small, outdoor costume parties or parades; attending parties outdoors where masks are used and people can distance themselves; going to an open-air, one-way haunted forest, where appropriate mask use is enforced and people can remain 6 feet apart, visiting pumpkin patches or orchards where people sanitize their hands before touching pumpkins or picking apples; and having an outdoor movie event, where masks are encouraged and distancing is advised.

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The CDC also reminds all that Halloween is a scary time, and if there is screaming, yelling or a lot of talking involved, distances of more than six feet are recommended, due to droplet spread. “The greater the distance, the lower the risk of spreading a respiratory virus.”

Thanksgiving

Turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, pies and family gatherings are just a few things that the Thanksgiving holiday boasts. The CDC believes that traveling visitors will be the biggest chance of increased virus spread.

Low risk activity, according to the CDC includes hosting a small dinner with only people living in your household; preparing traditional family recipes for local family and neighbors, especially those at higher risk of severe illness and delivering them in a non-contact way; hosting a virtual dinner with family and friends; shopping online rather than in person on the day after Thanksgiving or the following cyber Monday; and watching sports, parades, and movies at home.

Moderate risk activities include having a small outdoor dinner with family and friends who live in your community, visiting pumpkin patches or orchards where people use sanitizer before touching pumpkins or picking apples and where masks and distancing are encouraged; and attending small outdoor sports events with safety precautions in place.

High risk activities, which should be avoided according to the CDC, includes going shopping in crowded stores on or around Thanksgiving; participating or being a spectator at a crowded race; attending crowded parades; and attending large indoor gatherings with people from outside of your household.

Día de los Muertos

Día de los Muertos, or the Day of the Dead is traditionally held Oct. 31 through Nov. 2. This multi-day holiday involves family and friends gathering to pray, remember and honor friends and family members who have passed away.

Biggest risks with Día de los Muertos celebrations this year? Large indoor parties where singing and mass chanting is involved, and sharing spaces with those who travel from other locations.

Low risk activity, according to the CDC, includes preparing traditional family recipes for family and neighbors, especially those at higher risk of illness form COVID-19; playing music in your home that deceased loved ones would have enjoyed, making and decorating masks or making a home altar for the deceased; setting out pillows and blankets in the home for the deceased; and joining in virtual get-together celebrations.

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Moderate risk activity includes having small group outdoor and open air parades where people are distanced more than six feet apart; visiting and decorating graves of loved ones with household family members and keeping distanced from others in the area; and hosting or attending small dinners with local family and friends outdoors with distancing.

High risk activities include attending large indoor celebrations with singing; participating in crowded indoor gatherings; and having a large dinner party with people from different households or areas.

For more information, visit www.cdc.gov.