Holiday gathering

We are all being called on to do our best to lessen the spread of COVID-19 in our communities. Our hospitals, emergency rooms and especially intensive care units are full to capacity; if our number of cases per day increases we may not be able to take care of every ill patient properly.

This is crucial now as we enter the “surge” period of this virus. It appears more and more likely that we will have a vaccine available to all by early 2021.

The recommendation now in Minnesota for our families is to limit gatherings to 6-10 people, and no more than three different families. Our MLHS Infection Preventionist, Vicki Engmark, encourages us to think of ourselves as living in a “bubble.” Inside that bubble are the people that you are not socially distancing from; those you touch, hug, eat with, get close to without a mask , perhaps sleep with.

The smaller your bubble is, the safer you are. However, as soon as you let down your guard – at a party, dinner, bar or other gathering, your bubble immediately gets as large as everyone you are exposed to at that gathering. If you go to a gathering with 100 people freely associating, then your “bubble” is 100-plus people. Take that large bubble home, and then associate with someone else with a large bubble, you have germs shared between many hundreds of people.

So please plan your time with family carefully; do your best to limit your holiday gatherings. I plan on a Thanksgiving dinner for our family sometime in the spring, when we can really be thankful that the virus is behind us. Much of Christmas will also likely have to wait.

If you do plan a small gathering, and if there are people “outside your bubble,” you can still be careful. Food should be served to everyone by someone wearing a mask and with gloves or clean hands, instead of passing dishes or filling your plate buffet style. You should eat at least 6 feet away from people not in your “bubble” and you should wear a mask when you are not eating. A large room or table works much better than a small room or table.

Be careful and be safe – we owe it to each other.

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