As America gets vaccinated, COVID-19 is still a danger, which is why responsible hosts and guests are taking appropriate precautions to change the way they celebrate and avoid letting the virus into their homes.
Due to the surge of new cases, the CDC recommends against traveling over the Labor Day holiday weekend for unvaccinated people, and urges vaccinated people to take precautions to avoid getting or spreading the virus if they do travel.
It is not just the large crowds that cause concern among health professionals. Even small gatherings with family and friends can contribute to the spread of COVID-19, particularly if anyone is unvaccinated.
If you plan on getting together, emergency physicians offer these tips:
Remember anyone who isn't fully-vaccinated is more likely to get or spread COVID-19. Close friends and family can still contract and spread the virus the same way a stranger could.
Trim the guest list. Rather than a specified "safe" number of guests, public health experts suggest that hosts determine the size of a gathering by how many unvaccinated guests from different households can remain at least six feet apart.
Cover your face and maintain your distance. In public, people should cover their faces when they are not eating or drinking, and avoid close contact.
Stay outside and stay safer. If it is possible, hosting a small event outside instead of inside is preferable. If you're indoors, increasing ventilation by opening windows and running fans can reduce the probability of spreading COVID-19.
Encourage good hygiene. Hosts should make sure that bathrooms have plenty of soap so guests can frequently wash their hands and single-use towels.
Consider the risks in the community. To keep people as safe as possible, consider the risks of COVID-19 in the community where the host lives and wherever guests may be coming from. Exposure during travel is a concern for anyone relying on a bus, train, plane, or other public transportation.
Stay home if in doubt. Anyone with a weakened immune system or certain medical conditions, and elderly individuals, who hasn't been fully vaccinated are at higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19. Before socializing in-person, anyone who recently tested positive should meet all of the CDC criteria for when it is safe to be around other people.
Disrupting plans is never ideal. However, the choices made during this tough time could be life or death decisions. Everyone has unique circumstances, and it may be best to contact a health professional to discuss the options that will most effectively avoid putting friends or family at risk.
Remember, emergency physicians work 24/7, even on holidays. Do not ignore your symptoms if you think you are having a medical emergency—if something is wrong call 911 or visit your closest emergency department.
Emergency departments across the country are taking extensive precautions to adapt and protect patients. If plans go awry, emergency departments are safe and ready for anything or anyone that comes their way.