7 COVID-19 Risk Factors to Keep in Mind this Holiday Season

Every family is navigating the pandemic differently, but for most households, this holiday season will look unique from any before.  If you’re still deliberating holiday plans as a parent or caretaker, inform your decisions with these risk factors from the CDC.

Factor 1: Community levels of COVID-19

Keep track of COVID-19 spread in your area with the state’s health department website (portal.ct.gov/dph).  As cases rise, so does the risk of infection.  All gatherings between households pose some risk during the pandemic, but remain especially cautious if your area is experiencing a spike in cases.  Remember that whether you attend a gathering or host your own, you can inadvertently transmit disease.

Factor 2: Location of the gathering

Although all gatherings with people outside of your household pose a risk, indoor gatherings are riskiest.  Scientists now know COVID-19 is spread primarily through breath particulates, which circulate easily without ventilation.  As the weather gets colder, consider how much time you and your guests will have to spend indoors in close proximity.  Even outside, infected people can still spread COVID-19 if they ignore social distancing.

Factor 3: Duration of the gathering

Longer gatherings pose a greater risk than shorter gatherings.  The longer you share space with people outside of your household, the more likely you are to spread breath particulates.  Remember that people can carry the virus without symptoms, so even if someone doesn’t appear sick, they can still pass severe complications to someone else.

Factor 4: Number of people at the gathering

The CDC does not have a recommended number of attendees for gatherings.  All gatherings with people outside your own household should remain limited.  However, large gatherings can easily become superspreader events, especially as we move into the winter months.  Consider guests’ ability to avoid physical contact with one another.  Wherever you go, remember to practice social distancing and avoid crowds.   

Factor 5: Locations attendees are traveling from

The greater the distance guests must travel, the higher their risk of spreading COVID-19.  Although all gatherings between people present a risk, gatherings between people from different areas can create even more issues: hosts and attendees must consider case rates in everyone’s area of residence.  Guests from COVID hotspots have a higher likelihood of carrying disease, even if they don’t exhibit symptoms.

Factor 6: Behaviors of attendees prior to gathering

Unfortunately, even during a pandemic, it is impossible to control the behavior of others.  Consider whether or not guests have adhered to CDC guidelines, such as social distancing and wearing a mask.  

Factor 7: Behavior of attendees during the gathering

Consider whether or not it is possible to host guests while adhering to CDC guidelines.  Guests should remain six feet apart and wear a mask at all times.  Ignoring these recommendations increases the risk of spreading COVID-19, regardless of how many precautions attendees take before and after gathering.

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