You want to share the holidays with family and friends as you have in years past. But this year, with the COVID-19 pandemic, you‘ll need to factor new risks into your holiday plans. Doctors at the Baylor College of Medicine (BCM) have proposed one way to have a limited holiday gathering at reduced risk: by building a holiday bubble.
A bubble, in this pandemic, is a term for a close social circle, all members of which agree to follow specified infection-prevention measures. If the people in your bubble stay free of infection, you can have the confidence to interact relatively freely with them.
How to Build Your Holiday Bubble
Have a family meeting to agree on the rules of behavior for members of the bubble—the people who will gather for the holiday—and where you will gather. Consider the special risks to older or other higher-risk members. Look, too, at the rates of infection and travel restrictions where members live. The Baylor doctors suggest appointing a “family bubble commissioner.“
Gain the commitment of all bubble members to agree to the following actions:
- Self-quarantine for the two weeks before the gathering. That includes limiting social interaction and strictly following disease-prevention protocols, such as physical distancing, handwashing, and the use of masks.
- Check each person’s temperature daily during these two weeks, and watch for symptoms of illness. Contact a doctor or get a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) diagnostic test (nasal swab) at any sign of illness.
- Get a PCR diagnostic test five to seven days before gathering. If anyone tests positive, all members of that household should stay away.
- Travel by car, if possible, packing food for meals and snacks, and limiting stops along the way. When stopping, wear a mask and use hand sanitizer.
- If traveling by plane, fly nonstop if possible, and wear a mask (preferably an N95 mask). The doctors at Baylor recommend the use of a face shield or goggles in addition to a mask when flying and when stopping along the road.
If all of your bubble members follow these steps, you should be able to enjoy the holidays together safely—eating, playing, talking, and singing as you normally would. You might take special precautions during the gathering if you include elderly or other higher-risk family members. These might include mask wearing, extra ventilation, or gathering outdoors (weather permitting).
For More Information
“Holiday Bubble Checklist,” Baylor College of Medicine (2020)
“People at Increased Risk,” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) (2020)
“Travel during the COVID-19 Pandemic,” CDC (2020)
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Disclaimer: This document is intended for general information only. It does not provide the reader with specific direction, advice, or recommendations. You may wish to contact an appropriate professional for questions concerning your particular situation.
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