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The holiday season is traditionally a time for family and friends to gather together and celebrate. But the COVID-19 pandemic will make the holidays a whole different experience for many Americans.

Dr. Nipunie Rajapakse, pediatric infectious disease specialist at Mayo Clinic, says attending virtual events and restricting your gatherings to those who live in your household is the safest way to celebrate over the upcoming holiday season. She recommends anyone planning on celebrating the holidays with people outside their household to consider the concept of a social bubble. This allows you to expand your social interactions beyond family members in the household while reducing the risk of contracting COVID-19 or spreading it.

A social bubble refers to a small, well-defined group of people who agree to limit their close social contacts only to those within the bubble. Everyone is aware that they are part of the bladder and they agree to minimize close social contact with people outside the bladder.

Also, everyone in the bladder pledges to follow recommendations regarding physical distancing, wearing a mask in public, and hand washing in their daily life to reduce the risk of exposing others in their bladder.

Keeping your bladder down to fewer than 10 people or two to three families will make it easier for you to manage your bladder, communicate with one another, and minimize your risks. The bigger your bladder, the higher your risk. It’s important to choose people you trust to follow recommended precautions and to communicate openly and honestly when someone becomes sick or exposed to COVID-19 – and of course, who you enjoy spending time with.

“We all really need to consider how we’re approaching this season to keep everyone as healthy as possible. This is where the social bubble recommendation will come in handy,” says Dr. Rajapakse. “And I encourage anyone who hasn’t thought about this concept or implemented it in their family’s plan to think about it for the upcoming holiday season.”

She says that if everyone carefully follows the rules, the social bladder can reduce the risk of passing infections on to people in your bladder. And when someone gets sick, it’s easier to define who may have been exposed. But it takes some planning. You should have important conversations with the people you want to get in your bladder and ongoing communication about everyone’s health and wellbeing. It is important to discuss with your family how to minimize everyone’s risk of exposure.

Instead of gathering tightly around the dining table as usual, spread yourself out. If possible, celebrate outdoors. Think of a hike or a family walk as the “main event” where everyone is masked.

As an alternative to face-to-face meetings with a lower risk, you can connect with friends and family by phone or using online technology like Zoom. Connect your mobile device to your TV or place your computer at the end of the table to “share for miles”. Order a dessert for yourself and your loved ones remotely and enjoy every bite together.

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Quote: Create a social bubble, stay safe over the holidays (2020, November 9th). Retrieved November 9, 2020 from https://medicalxpress.com/news/2020-11-social-safe-holidays.html

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