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Visiting Family Over the Holidays? Here’s How to Lower Your Risk for COVID-19

It’s been months of quarantine and the urge to see friends and family is real, especially as the holidays approach. But as people are considering traveling to spend Thanksgiving or Hanukkah with loved ones, COVID-19 cases are again surging across the U.S.

While doctors say there’s no way to completely eliminate the risk of catching or spreading the novel coronavirus when venturing out, there are things you can do to reduce the risk, and all nine Bay Area counties plus the city of Berkeley released recommendations Monday for doing just that.

Consider Age and Health

Age is a major risk factor for the severity of COVID-19. CDC guidance says 8 out of 10 coronavirus deaths have occurred in people age 65 or older, and the greatest risk for serious illness is among those who are at least 85.

Have You Been Wearing Your Mask?

The CDC now says the coronavirus can be transmitted by large respiratory droplets at short distances and sometimes by smaller “aerosolized” particles over longer distances. This makes wearing a face covering over your mouth and nose whenever you’re out in public a key component of protecting yourself and others.

Remember the 6-Foot Rule

Health experts say social distancing is here to stay, and it’s one of the best ways to combat the coronavirus. In addition to wearing your mask, you should keep 6 feet or more from others when at the store, park or other public spaces.

Wash Hands Often

Scientists say washing your hands for at least 20 seconds is another important way to protect against infection, because soap and water can destroy the virus. If you can’t wash your hands when you’re outdoors, use a sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.

Limit Your Exposure

COVID-19 is thought to spread mainly through close contact between people. That’s why health experts say to limit how much exposure you have to people outside of your household.

In California, gatherings with people from more than three households are prohibited. State guidance is to limit these events to no more than two hours.

While the Risk Is Lower, Children Can Spread the Virus

Early research suggests kids are at a lower risk for getting sick and spreading COVID-19 — but this doesn’t mean they are immune. In some cases, children can transmit the disease.

“We’re recommending that older adults avoid contact with children,” said Dr. R. Sean Morrison, a geriatrician with Mount Sinai Health System. “We want to minimize the risk of that child passing on disease to their grandparents, who are at increased risk.”

Consider Outdoor Visits Over Indoor

The CDC says indoor spaces are more risky than outdoor ones for spreading the virus.

If an outdoor meetup is impossible due to weather or other factors and you decide to meet indoors, the CDC recommends you “avoid crowded, poorly ventilated, and fully enclosed indoor spaces. Increase ventilation by opening windows and doors to the extent that is safe and feasible.”

Choose a Car Ride Over a Flight

Some health experts say driving is safer than flying, where you’ll be in tight quarters with strangers for hours. But long car trips may require stopping for gas or food, so you’ll still want to take precautions. The recommendations are that you don’t share vehicles with people you don’t live with and that everyone where a mask. You should also open windows to increase air circulation.

Excerpted from “Visiting Family Over the Holidays? Here’s How to Lower Your Risk for COVID-19” from KQED. Read the full article for more information on the above and several additional tips to protect yourself and your loved ones.

Source: KQED | Visiting Family Over the Holidays? Here’s How to Lower Your Risk for COVID-19, https://www.kqed.org/science/1970886/visiting-family-over-the-holidays-heres-how-to-lower-your-risk-for-covid-19 |

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