6 Ways to Stay COVID-Safe This Holiday Season
As recommended by an actual scientist.
In a recent Atlantic story, writer Zeynep Tufekci spells out the obstacles our nation faces as another, possibly more deadly coronavirus wave hits. Tufekci’s evaluation of this surge–she’s especially concerned that without sufficient leadership, the nation won’t be able to stave off rising “hospitalizations, deaths, and potential long-term effects on survivors”–worries me. Does President Trump have the emotional (or intellectual) bandwidth to handle this properly?
No. We know the answer is “no,” because we’ve experienced, firsthand, his sluggish response to the first wave of the virus. His inaction then would lead to an unseemly number of COVID-related deaths–not to mention some 36,000 lives could have been saved if social distancing started a week earlier in March, according to a study by Columbia University. And Trump’s unwillingness to allow his coronavirus task force to communicate with President-elect Joe Biden, now, as Trump is fully distracted with stealing the election, follows the same pattern of negligence.
Here are some other things we know:
- The U.S. has topped 11 million positive COVID cases, as of press time.
- According to The New York Times, the “number of new cases has risen every day for more than a month.”
- Doctors are pleading with Americans to take the virus more seriously.
- Some US hospitals are already overwhelmed with COVID-positive patients.
- We are not in a good place.
And yet the president will maneuver through this wave of the pandemic no differently than the first–or second–time around. And with mobs of braindead zombies marching the streets of Washington, D.C. to protest their Führer’s fair-and-square loss of the 2020 election, we should expect Trump to feel superlatively emboldened; more confident than ever to twist and distort facts in his — and his base’s — favor.
In the face of what feels like imminent disaster, how do we, the people, keep ourselves safe — with the knowledge that our leader doesn’t care, and as we enter the holiday season, when travel and the tradition of gathering pose additional challenges to avoiding COVID transmission?
To get some answers, I spoke with Dr. Candace Rouchon, who has a Ph.D. in microbiology — the study of microorganisms, including bacteria and viruses — and an M.S. in experimental pathology — the study of the causes and effects of diseases — from New York Medical College. Here are her recommendations, in her words.
Dr. Rouchon: Practice social distancing–yes, even with your family. Try to avoid sitting next to or across from each other. Unfortunately, the days of crowding around the island, picking from each other’s plates, and tasting the food on the stove are over–at least, for now. Oh, and no unnannounced visitors!
Interact outdoors when possible.
Dr. Rouchon: Stay outside as much as possible. This may be difficult depending on where you live, but if weather permits, gather and consider eating outdoors (in places like the backyard). If you can’t, refer to the social distancing guidelines.
Bring your own cutlery.
Dr. Rouchon: Bring your own plates, cups, and serving ware to avoid any unnecessary transmission of germs. And make sure there is a designated cook and server in your home. Family style dinners are not recommended.
If you plan to travel…
Dr. Rouchon: Drive if you can. If you must fly, wear a mask and face shield. Keep both on unless eating or drinking. And quarantine after your flight, if you can. You should bring your own snacks and drinks for the flight, and consider getting a flu shot in advance.
Wash your hands often.
Dr. Rouchon: Wash your hands often throughout the day, ideally with antibacterial soap and for at least 20 seconds. Consider also keeping hand sanitizer that’s at least 60% alcohol on your person.
And for heaven’s sake, wear a mask.
Dr. Rouchon: Masks work. Wear them. A good mask has two or more layers and covers both your nose and mouth. No matter what your plans are for the holidays, you should have access to multiple, new, clean masks at all times.