Doctors urging people to celebrate Christmas and New Year's safely as COVID-19 cases rise

Posted at 6:31 AM, Dec 21, 2020

TAMPA — COVID-19 cases are rising as we head into the Christmas and New Year’s Eve holidays.

“We know people want to travel and we know people want to see their families and people are really bored with this virus. But the problem of course and I’ve said this before, is that the virus doesn’t care if you’re bored with it because it’s not bored with you yet and it’s still here,” said Dr. Jason Wilson, Associate Medical Director for the ER at Tampa General Hospital.

Doctors worry celebrations will contribute to a rise in COVID-19 cases.

According to the CDC, here are some things you should consider before having a get together:

  • Has someone traveled? Experts say anyone who has traveled via public transportation has a chance of being exposed to COVID-19.
  • Where are you celebrating? If you celebrate indoors, there’s much more risk of contracting the virus.
  • How many people are you inviting? Experts say the fewer, the better.
  • How did your guests behave prior to your gathering? Consider if the people you’re thinking about celebrating with were consistently social distancing, wearing a mask, and washing their hands before you let them in your bubble.

“We’re so close. We wouldn’t want to do anything to jeopardize the fact that we’re going to have a great holiday season next year when we’ve been vaccinated against COVID,” said Wilson.

However, doctors say just because we have to be safe this year, doesn’t mean we can’t celebrate at all.

Experts say this year, communication is key.

“Have conversations about how this is going to work before you get together so there’s no confusion and everybody knows what’s going to transpire,” said Dr. Marissa Levine, Professor of Public Health Practice at the University of South Florida.

Doctors are urging people not to let their guards down.

“The best thing we can do to really help the healthcare system right now is to look at staying with your pod only, your family, your direct family only for this holiday season,” said Wilson.

However, if you do decide to invite people to your celebration who don’t live with you, here are some tips on how to do it safely:

  • Have your gathering outside
  • If you have to be inside, open windows and stay at least 6 feet apart
  • Wear a face mask
  • Wash hands frequently