NBC 5 Responds: Celebrating the Holidays During a Pandemic

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Your favorite and typically most festive holidays will look very different this year, starting with Halloween. Traditional fun like trick-or-treating, parties and parades are being canceled or outright banned across the country. In efforts to avoid large gatherings that could spread COVID -19.

NBC 5 Responds spoke with nationally recognized infectious disease epidemiologist, Dr. Syra Madad, about how to celebrate the holidays with your family while keeping healthy and safe.

Experts warn COVID-19 fatigue is real.  With many people determined to celebrate the holidays as normally as possible this year.

But normal, isn't really recommended said Dr. Madad,— senior director of the Special Pathogens Program at NYC Hospitals, whose research was featured on the popular Netflix documentary, Pandemic.

"They're done with it, they want to go back to their normal life, unfortunately, and as cliché as it may be, we are done with the virus, but the virus is not done with us. There are still a number of individuals out there that are highly susceptible to COVID-19, and we know that the risk is not uniform. Just because you're young and you're healthy doesn't mean that you may be spared from a severe case of COVID-19," said Dr. Madad.

Wearing a costume, hanging out with neighbors and getting free candy are time-honored traditions for Halloween.  But Dr. Madad said you should skip traditional trick-or-treating but consider getting creative so the kids don’t miss out.

"For me personally, I'm not going to have my children go out and collect candy.  There's just too much at stake here. So for me, my plan is to do kind of a candy egg hunt, Easter eggs which you can buy a hundred for $8 dollars. I’ll put them all about the house, throughout the backyard," said Dr. Madad.

For Thanksgiving and Christmas, one way to spend time with family and friends is to merge your social bubbles. Those are people who don't live with you, but with whom you can freely interact without social distancing or wearing a mask.  It only works if everyone agrees to limit social interactions outside the bubble.

“There's a lot that has to happen in order to cause infection. But why take that risk? You know, and so I'd rather go on the side of caution and just make sure I'm limiting any non-household interaction as much as possible and doing it safely," said Dr. Madad.

Social bubbles will be important for Thanksgiving and Christmas since many people will find it difficult to spend this time isolated from family and friends.

"The best thing to do right now is plan in advance. You want to see family members for Thanksgiving. You know you want to see family members for Christmas. Plan that out in advance. What is the route you want to take? Do you have to quarantine before or after? How many people are going to be coming together? Things like that so you want to start looking for these planning elements right now because you want to be as prepared as possible,” said Dr. Madad.

It's generally recommended that your social bubble include no more than three households.

Keep in mind, the higher the number of people, the greater your risk of exposure to COVID-19.

Also, if you are thinking of traveling for the holidays, remember that some places have quarantine requirements for people from certain states.

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