From Prasad R. Kudalkar, MD, medical oncologist and hematologist
November 23, 2020
As COVID screenings increase and positive results trend up, families are faced with difficult decisions about how to safely navigate the holiday season.
Those with weakened immune systems, including many cancer patients, are more susceptible to viruses, including COVID-19. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), gatherings – including small household gatherings – are important contributors to the rise in COVID-19 cases. It’s also flu season, an additional public health risk for cancer patients.
During a time of year that is focused on celebrations, many families are assessing the risks associated with their typical holiday plans and travel. During the holidays, we eat together, we hug our loved ones, and come into close contact with others. It’s very difficult to eat together while wearing a mask and staying a at a safe distance.
And even if your family members have practiced COVID safety, it’s also important to be aware of who your family members have been around and whether or not they are following safety protocols. It’s more important than ever to consider:
- Who is coming into contact with the patient’s family members?
- Are they following precaution guidelines?
- Where do those individuals spend their time? Are they going out often, to the office or out to eat?
By carefully considering the safest way to navigate holiday gatherings, families can create meaningful experiences and memories without putting themselves or their loved ones at risk.
In addition to considering alternative ways to celebrate the joy of the season, cancer patients, their caregivers and other close contacts should take proactive measures to help slow the spread of COVID-19.
- Check local and state health department websites for the latest COVID-19 infection rates before hosting or attending a holiday gathering.
- Follow the safety guidelines set by the CDC: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/prevention.html
- Consider whether you or anyone you plan to visit over the holidays has a compromised immune system or is at increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19.
- Plan a small in-person gathering with only people who live in your household and coordinate a virtual celebration with others.
For more information on safely navigating the holidays during the COVID-19 pandemic, the cancer experts at OHC recommend the following resources:
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/daily-life-coping/holidays.html
- Ohio Department of Health: https://coronavirus.ohio.gov/wps/wcm/connect/gov/44c94e72-2e6d-46ed-a014-8cb7d035cd62/Holiday+Celebrations.pdf?MOD=AJPERES&CONVERT_TO=url&CACHEID=ROOTWORKSPACE.Z18_M1HGGIK0N0JO00QO9DDDDM3000-44c94e72-2e6d-46ed-a014-8cb7d035cd62-nncC1mY