While we all envision the holidays as a time for delicious meals with family and friends, the Infectious Diseases specialists at Boulder Community Health (BCH) strongly recommend you add safety to the menu at this year’s gatherings.

“From a medical perspective, we are not in a great place as a nation,” says Dr. Amie Meditz, infectious disease specialist at BCH’s Beacon Center for Infectious Diseases. “We are regularly setting new records for cases in the United States, and we’re seeing the highest daily counts for Colorado since the start of the pandemic”

On Nov. 20, Boulder County will move to the new “Red Level: Severe Risk” due to the rising number of positive COVID-19 cases. Before deciding to gather this holiday season, consider the potentially deadly impact an infection would have on you or your loved ones. Dr. Meditz readily admits that “these things are not easy, but these are right things to do.”

Here are some risk reduction tips from the ID team:

  • Do not go to gatherings if you don’t feel well.
  • Meet outdoors or in a well-ventilated space.
  • If traveling, go by car instead of by air and limit the number of stops you make.
  • Pretend everyone around you has COVID. Don’t try to assess who might have the virus - just assume everyone is infected.
  • Practice thorough hand hygiene throughout the gathering.
  • Always wear a mask and social distance at least six feet anytime you are with other people.
  • Keep all gatherings as small as possible (within your own household). If one person in a household is infected with COVID-19, the virus can easily spread to everyone. This has been shown in many studies.
  • Restrict activities for 14 days before gathering (e.g. avoid getting together with people outside your bubble, minimize trips for essential items to once a week, avoid gyms, restaurants or crowded public places, and avoid sharing closed spaces such as cars and elevators).
  • Testing prior to gathering can provide an additional layer of reassurance, but a negative test only gives you information about that moment. Testing works best when everyone restricts activities for 14 days prior to testing.
  • Most importantly, don’t let your guard down.