As COVID-19 cases continue to surge in the commonwealth, nearly 100 Chief Medical Officers and Chief Nursing Officers across the state have signed a letter encouraging people to follow public health guidance and avoid large gatherings this holiday season. This year, the healthcare community is asking that the holidays – usually prime occasions for large gatherings of friends and family – look different, with health and safety at the forefront of all planning.
“Think about the health of your friends and family this year. Think of those who have been on the front lines of this battle for the past eight months. Changing beloved holiday traditions won’t be easy, but it’s necessary to save lives and prevent healthcare facilities from being overwhelmed,” said Patricia Noga, PhD, RN, NEA-BC, FAAN, Vice President of Clinical Affairs for the Massachusetts Health and Hospital Association. “We must all hold each other accountable in the coming weeks.”
The letter encourages Massachusetts residents to get creative when planning celebrations, switching to virtual or “drive by” gatherings as much as possible. For those who choose to gather in-person, celebrations should be moved outside or limited to ten or fewer people in accordance with state guidelines. Meals should also be set up to allow adequate distance between every individual in attendance. These adjustments are essential in protecting the health of our communities and preventing our hospitals and healthcare organizations from becoming overwhelmed.
As always, continued diligence around public health guidance will be crucial. Wearing a mask, social distancing, and frequent hand washing are just a few things that can be done to help make this year’s holiday season as safe as possible.