American Medical Association shocks me with advice on holidays and COVID

Fall decorations mantle

It’s hard to surprise me these days as warning after warning comes from experts about COVID. My family has a long tradition when it comes to holidays. Like so many families, we spend time with each other. This year presents a dilemma. Do we come together or forego it out of concern for our elderly? When I read an article from the American Medical Association, I can honestly say I was shocked, but not in the way I expected. (Article continues after photo.)

Thanksgiving and fall theme
Photo: Indie Art South

I almost didn’t read it. I figured the AMA would just say avoid holiday gatherings, period. Perhaps because the organization took human nature into consideration, that isn’t what the association said.

I posted the article on my Facebook page. I know most don’t actually read the articles people post—they usually just respond to the headline. This article, however, is well worth your time.

Instead of nixing ideas about gatherings, the AMA attempted to give recommendations on how to safely gather. That’s what my family has done from the beginning. My husband and I took our first road trip amid the COVID pandemic in September. I wrote about that. My main concern was my elderly mother. I hadn’t seen her since Christmas, 2019. The last thing I wanted to do was give her some illness that could take her life.

In order to prepare, my husband and I kept to ourselves for two weeks before the trip. Both of us had surgery, so we’d been tested and came up negative. But we did the sequester in order to minimize as much risk to her as possible.

For the road trip, we took disposable gloves, hand sanitizer, and of course, masks. If we pumped gas, we used the disposable gloves and tossed them. We didn’t stop for coffee or food where the public had access to the equipment. That meant no coffee from places where you have to touch the coffee pot handle. If we used the bathroom in a public facility, we wore masks and disposable gloves. We did get some funny looks. I don’t care. We did what we thought was best to protect my mother and ourselves. We took our own food so we didn’t have to stop for that.

We didn’t see our whole extended family on that trip. My husband and I stayed at my mom’s and when we stopped to see four other family members on the way back to Florida, we gathered outside for the most part.

We took every precaution and all went well.

Based on many articles I’ve read, the biggest risk comes for those who gather in large groups or who gather in small enclosed areas.

This year our holidays will be smaller in numbers. We’re accepting the fact we can’t do our usual Thanksgiving bonfire where we invite just about anyone who wants to come. We’re accepting the fact we can’t do our usual gathering for our whole extended family because the numbers would just be too great a risk.

What we are doing is holding on to a part of our tradition while trying hard to minimize risk to those who are vulnerable. Common sense goes a long way.

Here at home we have an asset that has proven invaluable—our deck is partly covered now so when my immediate family gathers, we take it outside even if it’s raining. The fact we don’t have much cold weather here in North Florida is also an asset.

Read the AMA article if you’re willing. It’s the best advice I’ve seen so far when it comes to protecting yourself and your loved ones amid a pandemic we still don’t have all the answers on, especially answers from the Communist Party of China. We will likely not get those answers although it is indisputable that the virus impacted American lives and the 2020 election.

The CDC has also issued guidelines and advice; reading that is worth your time as well.

(Kay B. Day/Nov. 19, 2020)

Derelict by Rebecca Day
Image of ‘Derelict’ book cover courtesy of author.

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