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Shopping, holiday gatherings and more with COVID-19

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The pull to be with family and friends for the holidays is great. But this year, there is an unwelcome guest in our midst: COVID-19.

A new national survey by The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center finds that although a majority of Americans plan to take precautions at holiday gatherings, such as social distancing and asking those with COVID symptoms not to attend, many will also put themselves at risk.

Nearly two in five report they will likely attend a gathering with more than 10 people and a third will not ask guests to wear masks.

And unlike summer gatherings, which could be held outdoors in the fresh air, these winter holidays present greater danger as people move inside, said Dr. Iahn Gonsenhauser, chief quality and patient safety officer at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center.

While it is safest to avoid crowds this holiday season, here is what Gonsenhauser recommends doing to keep yourself and those you care about safer.

  1. Approach parties differently from past years.

    If you’re going to host or attend a holiday gathering, maintain social distance and wear a mask. Keep your crowd sizes small, and ventilate the area well. Crack a window and use fans to circulate air.

  2. Go online.

    Shop online to avoid crowded stores and shopping centers.

  3. Rethink public spaces.

    Parades, festivals, movie theaters and restaurants are very popular this time of year, but you may want to sit this year out.

  4. Have travel plans?

    If you have to travel for the holidays, try to make it a road trip. If you must travel by air, mask up the entire time, and practice good hand hygiene by washing hands frequently with soap and water and making use of hand sanitizer.

    Follow the travel recommendations of public health officials wherever you’re visiting and when you return home.