(CBS Local) – While many have avoided the extended family for most of 2020, doctors say the wait could be until the vacation due to rising COVID-19 case numbers in the US.
Many wonder if it is safe to have a Thanksgiving Day with grandma and grandpa at the dining table?
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, personal holiday gatherings pose different levels of risk to people. Mallika Marshall, a practicing doctor in Boston and medical reporter for the WBZ, says the risk is not worth it.
“You’re in an enclosed space,” said Marshall. “You have to take off your mask to eat and drink. You will likely be in close proximity to other people. “
Especially for people at high risk – who are defined by the CDC as older adults and people with underlying chronic conditions – Marshall 2020 should avoid gatherings altogether.
“We know that the virus can linger in the air and spread through the air. It just doesn’t seem like a smart idea, ”said Marshall.
A number of factors determine the risk of gathering, including the spread of COVID-19 in the city where you plan to meet a family, where everyone is traveling from, how long they spend together, what people did before the visit, and how people behave together.
For example, people who live in high-casualty communities and do little to observe health and safety guidelines that prevent the spread of COVID-19 are at greater risk of exposing others to a holiday get-together.
Outdoor gatherings that strictly adhere to social distancing guidelines and wear masks have a lower risk of transmission.
“The best advice I can give is if you can try to get tested within 72 hours of meeting other people, that would be ideal,” Marshall said.
People who are considered high risk or people who live with people who are considered high risk should avoid large gatherings at all. If you or someone you are in close contact with develops symptoms of COVID-19, the CDC recommends quarantining you for 14 days.
Symptoms of COVID-19 can appear two to 14 days after exposure and include fever or chills, cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, fatigue, muscle or body aches, headache, new loss of taste or smell, sore throat, constipation or runny nose, nausea or vomiting and diarrhea.
Air travel during vacation
Research at Harvard University recently released results with optimistic results for those planning air travel during the pandemic.
According to the study, time on the plane may be safer than everyday activities like grocery shopping or eating out in a restaurant.
“Air in an airplane starts above your head and falls straight to the ground. As soon as it hits the ground, the filters pull aside and go to the HEPA filters. HEPA filters remove 99.99% of bacteria and viruses from the air, ”said Rebecca Spicer, senior vice president of communications for Airlines For America.
U.S. airlines are taking additional steps to ensure customer safety during the pandemic, according to Spicer.
“They needed masks immediately,” said Spicer. “You pushed it through vigorously.”
According to Spicer, airlines use electrostatic sprayers to clean the planes before passengers board. She emphasizes that the touch-sensitive areas such as seat belts, tray tables and overhead openings are sterile.
Doctors are optimistic about the latest findings, but warn that your time on the subway is only part of the journey.
“We’re only talking about the airplane, but traveling involves getting to and from the airport. Some people take public transit to get to the airport or stand in potentially long lines at security, ”Marshall said.
Most US airlines no longer charge change fees when you need to rebook a fare.
“You want to give potential travelers the confidence that if you buy this ticket you can be flexible about changing your plans,” says Spicer.
Although fewer people are expected during this holiday season, she recommends getting to the airport earlier. Many airports have closed parking lots or garages, according to Spicer. You may also have a hard time finding open providers if you’ve exceeded security.
“Put a small snack in your bag, take an empty water bottle. You can fill it up on the other side of the TSA checkpoint, ”Spicer said.
Stay healthy this winter
The safest option for you and your family is to stay home this winter. Schedule virtual gatherings to meet relatives.
There is currently no approved vaccine for COVID-19. Dr. However, Marshall suggests getting your flu shot as early as possible.
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“Not only are we entering another spike in the coronavirus, we’re entering the flu season,” Marshall said.
If you do get sick, making healthy decisions beforehand will help you protect yourself against the disease. Dr. Marshall recommends eating well, exercising regularly, and getting enough sleep this winter. For people with underlying medical conditions, make sure that their symptoms are treated well.