Health experts are warning against usual gatherings for the holiday season. (Graphic by Omar Combie)
Health experts are warning against usual gatherings for the holiday season.

Graphic by Omar Combie

OPINION: Holidays during the pandemic: should we cancel?

November 24, 2020

*Columns are the opinions of their respective authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Wichitan as an organization.*

As we get closer to the end of the year, the total number of COVID-19 cases in Texas has reached over 1 million people. People have been debating whether or not Thanksgiving and Christmas should be canceled in order to prevent the spread of COVID-19. However, many people are arguing against this idea, because the holidays are seen as an escape from the reality of the pandemic. However, the reality is that even though we feel drawn to celebrate with our families, large gatherings will only increase the risk of spreading COVID-19 and risk the health of our loved ones.

I am not saying you shouldn’t spend time with your family at all this holiday season. The issue is when families have large gatherings with people outside of their social circle. You may trust your family member to be safe and healthy but you do not know who is constantly around them, and, more importantly, whether they are taking safety precautions. For example, I live on campus with a roommate. I don’t wear a mask when I am with her in my apartment because that is a safe space for me, and I am not required to wear a mask. I trust my roommate to practice social distancing, hand sanitizing and wear her mask whenever she is in public. But there are instances when she will hang out with her friends and family and could potentially be exposed to COVID-19, just like family members coming for the holidays. You know the person, but you don’t know the people who are usually around them.

Instead of having large family gatherings, the safest way to celebrate is with the people you live with at home. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released an article regarding holiday celebrations and considerations, stating that gatherings with friends and family who do not live with you increases the risk of getting both COVID-19 and the flu. It is flu season, after all, so you have to take precautions against spreading the flu as well. Celebrating virtually is also an option, especially since most of us are used to using technology to video call people. Avoid traveling if possible, as well. Taking these precautions are not meant to keep you away from your loved ones. The best way to keep both your family and yourself safe is to stay home and celebrate with the members of your own home. This pandemic has taken a lot from us. Let’s stop the spread of COVID-19, so we can spend the holidays with our families next year.

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