The holidays are full of time-honored traditions, but during the pandemic, you may need to engage in safer activities that don’t put you, your family or the community at risk.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says that COVID-19 can sometimes be spread by airborne transmission in addition to respiratory droplets. 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 through the coming months.
Even more important – avoid indoor gatherings at homes, restaurants, bars and other event venues where transmission is more likely to occur.
The Johnson County Department of Health and Environment (JCDHE) urges everyone to continue COVID-19 prevention measures during the holidays and plan for a safer way to celebrate this year.
If you do get together with extended family and friends, keep the group size to less than 10 people and host your gathering outdoors or in a well-ventilated space. Arrange tables and chairs to allow for physical distancing, wear masks when less than 6 feet apart and minimize gestures that promote close contact. For example, don’t shake hands, do elbow bumps, or give hugs. Instead wave and verbally greet them. 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 or later in the evening. If you are an older adult or have a medical condition that puts you at a higher risk for complications from COVID-19 or the flu, shop when stores have reserved hours for vulnerable populations.
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. It can take up to two weeks after immunization for your body to build up the antibodies that will protect you from the flu, so get your flu shot now so you’re protected throughout the holiday season.
Flu shots are readily available at most doctors’ offices, urgent care clinics, pharmacies, grocery stores and the local health department. You can walk-in and get a flu shot at JCDHE’s immunization clinic in Olathe Monday-Friday.
Mental health is important too. The holidays can add stress on top of the loneliness, fear and anxiety that some people 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.
The CDC provides additional guidance for holiday celebrations.