Doctors urge public to make safety a top priority over holidays


With COVID-19 infections at an all-time high, medical experts urge the public to make safety their number one priority throughout the holiday season.

“Nearly a year into this pandemic, people are yearning for a return to normalcy. However, COVID-19 cases are surging and with flu season already upon us, bringing together people from different households during the holidays is far too great a safety risk,” says Susan R. Bailey, M.D., president of the American Medical Association (AMA).

South Dakota has been in the national news as of late. On Monday a new report from Forbes stated South Dakota was the riskiest state in the country to visit based on the current level of coronavirus spread in the state.

Forbes magazine published a list of 10 riskiest states to visit, within the article it stated South Dakota’s infection rate of 154.5 new COVID-19 cases per 100,000 people on a rolling weekly average, citing the Harvard-Brown risk-assessment tool. Many other states from the Upper Midwest also made the list. North Dakota was second, Iowa was third, and Minnesota was eighth.

For the American Medical Association sharing tips for a safe and healthy holiday season is a priority. Their suggestions include:

1. It may not be the way you’re used to celebrating, but consider limiting this year’s gatherings to just the people who live in your household.

2. If you live somewhere warm, you may be able to add a few people to your plans, but only if your get together is outdoors and safely physically distant.

3. Take advantage of the video conferencing technologies available at your fingertips to bridge the distance between you and family or friends. Whether it’s watching holiday movies, unwrapping gifts or sharing recipes together, many of these traditions can still happen virtually.

4. Interested in holiday deals and discounts? Shop for bargains from home. And if you must go to the store in person and you’re at-risk, check ahead of time to see if there are special hours for you.

5. Consider additional outdoor activities that can bring together other people in your circle without the dangers of dining inside. Go apple picking, leaf peeping or hiking. Think beyond the traditional holiday activities and start new traditions.

6. Disappointed that your usual large dinner is for a smaller group? You can still cook a large meal and share a portion with neighbors or friends. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends “delivering them in a way that doesn’t involve contact with others.”

7. Continue to follow everyday safety guidelines to prevent the spread of COVID-19: wash your hands, maintain physical distancing and #MaskUp.

More health resources, along with tips to prevent the spread of COVID-19, are available at ama-assn.org.

“Missing holiday traditions is difficult, but with top scientists and researchers working round the clock to combat this virus, I’m hopeful that by this time next year, friends and family will be together again, one way or another,” says Dr. Bailey.


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