This Season Spread Holiday Cheer, not Holiday Contagion
By Julie Khanna
Of all of the challenges this year has brought us, the holidays are no exception. Most of us find ourselves longing for the familiar feeling of holiday traditions and the urge to indulge in some sense of normalcy. Sharing family recipes, exchanging warm holiday greetings, and thoughts of connecting with loved ones after months of virtual spaces are all welcomed thoughts.
But just like everything else in 2020, we are stumbling together trying to recreate a safer version of our new normal. How and who we choose to share the holidays with takes careful consideration now as we’re mindful of social distancing and smaller capacities.
So how does the host decide who’s safe to make the in person guest list and how to host a holiday safely?
For starters, don’t fall for the ol’ “I’ve already had COVID so I don’t need a mask” line.
With the immense number of COVID-19 cases, there’s a good chance at least one of your potential guests have had COVID-19 by now. “They should still wear a mask. Even though reinfections are rare, there have been a few reported cases. Plus, we don’t know if they are still shedding the virus. I’ve seen people shedding for two weeks and I’ve seen people shedding for 5-6 weeks. It’s hard to tell if they’re still infectious,” says Dr. Ravi Pandey, a board certified internal medicine physician and hospitalist in Palm Beach County.
“We also don’t want to give off the perception that it’s okay to be without a mask in a social gathering,” says Dr. Pandey.
Knowing if your guests are no longer contagious is necessary.
The onset of symptoms is an important benchmark to consider so don’t be shy to ask.
“For most people, 10 days after the onset of symptoms is when they’re not supposed to be contagious,” says Dr. Pandey.
According to the CDC website, “persons with mild to moderate COVID-19 remain infectious no longer than 10 days after symptom onset. Persons with more severe to critical illness likely remain infectious no longer than 20 days after symptom onset. For most persons with COVID-19 illness, isolation and precautions can generally be discontinued 10 days after symptom onset and resolution of fever for at least 24 hours, without the use of fever-reducing medications, and with improvement of other symptoms.”
“Re-testing is not recommended by the CDC. But a negative test documenting that you are negative after the infection is another indicator” that you are likely no longer contagious.
What if your guest assures you they’re no longer contagious but they’re still coughing and complaining of not feeling well.
We now know that some symptoms linger like fatigue, shortness of breath or cough. Some studies say lingering symptoms can last for weeks to months after the infection, despite the person not being contagious anymore.
“As long as they are wearing a mask and we are wearing a mask, and they are not considered contagious any longer per the CDC guidelines, it’s still okay,” says Dr. Pandey.
Being together for the holidays is important but so is your safety. Having the corona-conversation with your guests ahead of time is a necessity. For those that are choosing to forgo a virtual holiday, please make sure to allow for adequate social distancing, wear masks in social settings, host outdoors if possible, and follow CDC recommendations for your out of town guests.
As we learn our new normal together it’s vital that we remember there are still so many unknowns. “We are playing with something that we don’t know everything about so it’s better to err on the side of caution than not,” says Dr. Pandey.
Dr. Ravi Pandey is available for extended and weekend hours in his West Palm Beach office. (561) 867-0000
Julie Khanna is the owner of Khanna Connections, a marketing, communications and relations firm with a niche in the medical, health and wellness industries.