(Stay) Home for the Holidays

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Paulina Fenske

With a surge of COVID cases on the horizon, it is crucial that families recognize and become aware of the risks involved in travelling for the 2020 winter holidays by planning to stay at home this year.
It has been predicted by health experts across the nation that the holidays are bound to escalate the number of COVID cases in the United States. According to a Healthline article by Roz Plater, following the Thanksgiving holiday, the number of new COVID cases were up 20% than two weeks prior. In addition, the number of hospitalizations had increased by 21% as well as the number of deaths had jumped up 39%. These statistics make it clear; people should refrain from travelling and visiting others outside of their bubble.
Kate Edwards, a professor and epidemiologist at the University of California, Irvine, states that, “We’ll likely continue to see a surge of cases in the fall and over the holidays.” She adds, “ If you must travel, be sure to follow all recommendations, including checking with destinations and events you plan to attend to be sure that travel to that destination or event is still possible. Cancel your trip if you have any symptoms of COVID-19 or concerns about risk of infection.”
It is important to realize that our actions have consequences and risks, especially during this time. Choosing to visit family members can put them at a high risk for contracting COVID. And these decisions can ultimately be fatal.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert said, “We really have to be careful this time that each individual family evaluates the risk-benefit. If you have vulnerable people, the elderly or people that have underlying conditions, you better consider whether you want to do that now or maybe just forestall it and wait.”
In response to the spike in COVID cases as we near the holiday season, CNN published an article dedicated to answering the question: “Is it safe to travel for the holidays this year?” The author, Marnie Hunter, states that the Center for Disease Control urges Americans to skip holiday travel this year. Hunter highlighted a quote from Governor Jared Polis of Colorado, comparing family get-togethers to playing “Russian Roulette.” Especially with older and immunocompromised Americans at high risk, there is no reason to risk lives just to share a meal together. According to a COVID-19 event risk assessment created by Georgia Tech, the estimated chance that at least one person is COVID positive in a 15-person gathering is 52% in Milwaukee.

Although familial traditions are incredibly valued, there are other ways to connect while staying physically distanced and safe.”

Although familial traditions are incredibly valued, there are other ways to connect while staying physically distanced and safe. Clearly, the most popular form of socially-distanced meetings with family is through Zoom. Virtual watch parties are also becoming increasingly popular through Zoom, Netflix Party, Hulu Watch Party, and Amazon Watch Party. In addition, families have also found ways to connect with each other by sending letters and pictures to each other. Whether a message is from across the country or across the street, it is sure to make someone’s day.
Even though the pandemic has been incredibly hard on everyone, it is important to remember that risking the lives of others who are not as fortunate to have strong health or economic stability to afford healthcare is not worth it. This year, you should plan on staying home for the holidays.