As the U.S. enters the colder holiday seasons amid the coronavirus pandemic, updated federal health guidance is encouraging virtual celebrations and outdoor gatherings to reduce the spread of COVID-19.
“Attending gatherings to celebrate events and holidays increases your risk of getting and spreading COVID-19,” the latest guidance reads. “The safest way to celebrate is virtually, with people who live with you, or outside and at least 6 feet apart from others.”
The health agency advised celebrating over video chats with family and friends, watching virtual events and driving around the community to wave at neighbors from a safe distance.
For those eyeing indoor gatherings, the CDC issued recommendations for a safer holiday, including vaccinations for all those eligible who have yet to receive shots, adhering to mask guidance, opening doors and windows to boost air flow, but also to “have conversations ahead of time to understand expectations for celebrating together.”
Those feeling sick or experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 shouldn’t attend or host gatherings, the CDC added, while also noting travel guidance, such as mask requirements on public transportation regardless of vaccination status.
The updated guidance coincided with over 118,000 new daily infections on Oct. 1, with the latest seven-day average for new hospital admissions at 7,600 amid continued spread of the delta variant. As of Sept. 27, daily COVID-19 infections and hospitalizations each declined by about 30% since late August, according to CDC data, and about 70 million Americans remain unvaccinated against COVID-19.