‘Tis the season to stay home

Holiday travel and get-togethers pose a threat to public health


Photo by Kevin Dooley (Creative Commons)

Set up your favorite festive decor because this holiday season, staying home and limiting the size of gatherings will be imperative to stop the spread of the virus.

Emma Baker, Editor-in-Chief

After Gretna’s coronavirus outbreak in October, stemming from a Homecoming party, one would assume cramming an abundance of people around a feast of family-style foods is a bad idea. Yet, here we are, facing a record 29 percent COVID positivity rate in Douglas County, battling approximately 30 cases at West and holding our breath at the outcomes of cold and flu season. All the while, people excitedly plan for the upcoming holidays like it’s 2019. 

Well, it’s 2020, and complete collaborative action is long overdue. No extravagant holiday party is worth the risk of participating in a super-spreader event.

Of the 60 percent of Americans that typically travel during the holiday season, 39 percent will keep tradition alive and travel amidst the pandemic. It raises the question: what about keeping our families, friends and community members alive and well? Sure, I can understand a small gathering if everyone has agreed to quarantine for at least 14 days, but that doesn’t seem possible as I see some people struggling to wear masks properly and disregarding public safety procedures. Not to mention, children are in schools and many teens and adults are working, increasing COVID contact points exponentially. Millard Public Schools currently has 185 active cases and over 1,000 people in quarantine.

There are too many dangerous variables to get together this year. The location, the effectiveness of the ventilation, the duration of the gathering, the number of people invited, the medical conditions of potential attendees, the behaviors of the guest during the gathering and equally important, the behaviors of the guest before the gathering are all potential risks. Not to mention, holiday travel increases exposure to the virus. 

Who’s to say your crazy uncle isn’t lying about his negative test result? What about grandpa or grandma who sits at the head of the Thanksgiving table? Their age automatically puts them at a higher risk, a risk not worth a day of simply stuffing your face and vegging out on the couch.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says the solution is staying home as it poses the lowest likelihood of contracting the virus. This year, hosting a small “party” for the people living in your household may be the best way to go. If you want to think outside of the box, then have a dish or recipe exchange with friends and family and make it contactless with porch-side delivery. Or invite everyone to the table by replacing the fruits and flowers of the cornucopia with a device capable of video calls.

Keep spirits high by decorating the house with lights, inflatables, trees and candles. Crank out holiday tunes, watch movies and parades on television, and go Black Friday shopping online in your pajamas—no one said that holidays at home have to be boring.

But they should be celebrated in safe and considerate ways.

Nebraska—and more significantly America—can’t afford the repercussions of crowded Thanksgiving feasts and careless Christmas vacations. While the holiday spirit rises, so do the numbers. We need to do our part by staying home and staying safe.