How to reduce the risk of COVID at holiday gatherings – NBC Los Angeles

Holiday traditions are important.

The same goes for the health of family and friends.

There are ways to minimize health risks if you host a vacation gathering and still enjoy the season’s beloved traditions.

“I think this year we’re in a different place,” said clinical nurse specialist Alice Benjamin. “We have had vaccines, we have tests readily available. I think we are in a safer place to do it, but you still need to take these extra precautions.”

Getting vaccinated is the best defense. Getting a booster further increases protection. But it takes two weeks for COVID vaccines to be fully effective.

So the Los Angeles County Department of Health, state health officials, and medical experts offer advice on what can be done on a party or gathering day to minimize the risk. of the spread of COVID.

Think about location, location, location

Avoid places where COVID spreads more easily, such as closed spaces with poor air circulation. Crowded spaces with people from different households and places of close contact – especially where people talk, sing and laugh – also pose higher risks.

It is best to gather outside. If this is not possible, indoor airflow can be improved by opening doors and windows, using fans and air purifiers, and turning on the HVAC system.

Get a COVID test

This is an especially good idea if you’ve invited people at high risk of serious illness from COVID. A positive result means you have an infection and should avoid gatherings. A negative test means you may not have an infection. The CDC recommends repeating the test with at least 24 hours between tests to increase confidence that you are not infected.

“Steps Californians can take to protect themselves and loved ones while on vacation are some of the key steps,” said Dr. Mark Ghaly, secretary of the California Health and Human Services Agency. “First of all, if you are sick and have symptoms stay home. Don’t go to the holiday party, don’t mingle with people who might be vulnerable if you spread an infection to them. Second, before you get together, consider getting tested.The tests are widely available, there are many test sites, get tested.

Remember, symptoms of COVID can appear anywhere from two to 14 days after exposure to the virus, according to the CDC.

Wear a face mask

Masks are recommended indoors. Outdoors, it’s a good idea to wear one if the area is crowded with unvaccinated people, guests at increased risk of serious illness, or when you just don’t know someone’s immunization status. ‘a.

The California Department of Public Health says masks are optional if everyone at an indoor gathering is fully vaccinated.

Set the table

Set up tables so that people sit with members of the same household, if possible. Leave some distance at the table between members who are not part of the household.

Keep your hands clean

Wash hands before and after preparing the holiday meal. Have hand sanitizers available for guests. Consider recruiting assigned servers so that not everyone touches shared items.

Your house, your rules

Doctors and nurses told the NBC4 I-Team that hosts should consider asking guests to show proof of a negative test or full vaccination. About 30 percent of the country is still partially or totally unvaccinated.

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