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The holidays are upon us once again and that is reason to celebrate! But the pandemic is NOT over, and we want to minimize our risk and keep people as safe as possible. While this is the second Thanksgiving/Christmas season since the pandemic started, this year should be less anxiety producing and more fun. Fortunately, with many of our family and friends having been fully vaccinated, we can more safely gather in small groups. But there will be a few things to consider as we make our plans to host or attend events:

1) In-home activities/gatherings are generally safer, as you can control numbers of people and circumstances.

2) Consider limiting the number of people in attendance and who you want invite. It has been suggested by experts that including groups of people who are part of a “pod”, rather than quite a few 1-2 person separate family/groups is more likely to decrease spread of the Virus. (ie 10-12 people made up of 2-3 family groups/pods would be a safer choice than 6-8 groups of 1 or 2 people groups).

3) Encourage your guests to be fully vaccinated, and if over 65 or immunocompromised, encourage the booster ahead of time.

4) If some members are unvaccinated, depending on their level of activity in the workplace or in public, determine if you would feel more comfortable if they had a Covid test right before arriving; either at a test site or buy purchasing an Abbott Binax NOW-COVID-19 Antigen Self Test ($24- 2 tests 36 hours apart. Screening tool) And if you aren’t comfortable with that, consider asking them to wear a mask, except when eating.

5) Choose well-ventilated areas to gather. If the area is small and contained, consider using a fan with filter or cracking a window to allow better air exchange.

6) Consider destinations and transmission rates when traveling. This is a really informative Covid Data tracker website from the CDC: https://covid.cdc.gov/covid- data-tracker/#county-

Have a wonderful and stay safe holiday season!

Chris Mayer

Mark your calendars and support your local hospitals with the “gift of life”. The next Versiti Blood Drive will be Sunday December 12 from 11am-3pm in Mitchell Hall. You only need to be 17+ to donate. To make an appointment call: 866-642-5663.