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Published on December 16, 2020

How do I say no to holiday gatherings

Ask the COVID-19 experts: "How do I say no to holiday gatherings?"

Is celebrating the holidays weighing on your mind? How do you explain to grandma that you’ll be celebrating within your household only this year? How do you respond to people who say they don’t mind the risk of COVID-19?

Saying no is never easy. Bridget Pfaff, administrative director, Gundersen Infection Control, offers helpful advice.

Bridget Pfaff, administrative director, Gundersen Infection Control, says it’s become increasingly important to avoid large gatherings this holiday season.

"What we are recommending is celebrating within households only. We have seen more and more family events lead to tragedy due to the unexpected transmission of the virus. Sometimes, 20 or more people impacted by COVID-19 following a family gathering,"says Bridget.

How did it work for Thanksgiving?

"We are still waiting to see the full impact of gatherings people may have had across the country. My own family had quite a unique virtual gathering for Thanksgiving 2020. We were able to connect family from the United States with loved ones in Italy, Spain and The Netherlands. Technology made it feel like we were not oceans apart,"shares Bridget.

So, what do I tell my family who insists on gathering?

Bridget recommends leading by example. Support your decision by sharing the impact of COVID in your community: "COVID can be deadly. No one wants to be the one who brings COVID to Christmas. Hospitals have been challenged and healthcare workers are getting tired."

How should I respond to people who try to get the virus on purpose?

Being naive is not the way to handle a virus that is new to us and science. As Bridget shares, "We do not yet know the long-term impact of COVID. As an example, many people have had chickenpox and, because of that, are at risk for developing shingles later in life. We do not know what the lingering effects of COVID will mean," adds Bridget.

Still not content with forgoing your traditional holiday plans? Explore our list of new family traditions to give yourself and your loved ones something to look forward to.

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