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Celebrating safely this holiday season

November 4, 2020

By Jennifer Dunlay

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently announced COVID-19 can sometimes be spread by airborne transmission in addition to respiratory droplets

As we approach the winter holiday season, wearing a mask, washing hands frequently and keeping a safe distance (6 feet or more) from others you don’t live with will continue to be necessary. Even more important – avoid crowded indoor gatherings at homes, restaurants, bars and other venues where transmission is more likely to occur.

The Johnson County Department of Health and Environment urges everyone, especially aging adults, to continue COVID-19 prevention measures and plan for safer ways to celebrate this year. Here are a few ideas:

Stay local. Travel increases the chance of getting and spreading the virus that causes COVID-19. Staying home is the best way to protect yourself and others. If you must travel, be informed of the risks.

Keep gatherings small. Wave or verbally greet visitors instead of hugging or shaking hands. Have a small dinner or celebration outdoors or in a well-ventilated area with only the people who live in your household. Remind people who are sick, those who have been exposed to a person with COVID-19 or anyone waiting on a COVID-19 test result to stay home.

Shop online. If that’s not possible, shop during less crowded times, such as early morning, later in the evening or when stores have reserved hours for vulnerable populations.

Connect electronically. Video chat with family and friends using a computer, tablet or smartphone. Watch sports events, parades, and movies from home.

Get a flu shot this year. It may prevent you from getting the flu or getting seriously ill from the flu which will reduce the burden of flu illnesses and hospitalizations on the health care system.

Mental health is important too. The holidays can add stress on top of the loneliness, fear and anxiety that some aging adults may be experiencing during the pandemic.

If you or someone you know is struggling with depression or suicidal thoughts, tell a trusted family member or friend or reach out to Johnson County Mental Health’s 24- hour crisis line at 913-268-0156.

Jennifer Dunlay is Risk Communicator at the Johnson County Department of Health and Environment.