Having a holiday gathering? The CDC wants you to weigh these 7 factors


In a new post on holiday gatherings, the Centers for Disease Control poses seven factors for Americans to consider as they decide if and how to plan their holiday gatherings.

The advice comes at an awkward moment for the CDC, which was forced to reverse course after a post last weekend that cited more risk from coronavirus aerosols than the agency had previously acknowledged. But the holiday guidance, which boils down to seven questions, may nevertheless help families deciding if and how to come together.

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CDC officials write that the advice is meant to supplement the laws and rules set by local and state officials, not override them.


The seven questions and descriptions (paraphrased from CDC language):

• What are the community levels of COVID-19? (In addition to the infection level in a family member’s point of origin, the infection level in their gathering destination will shape the overall risk level of the event.)

• Where is the gathering? (Indoors is riskier than outdoors, and indoors with poor circulation is worst of all.)

• What’s the duration of the gathering? (Long ones are riskier than short ones.)

• What is the number of people at the gathering? (The fewer the people, the safer the event. And many jurisdictions have limits on how many people may gather in public.)

• What locations are attendees traveling from? (“Gatherings with attendees who are traveling from different places pose a higher risk than gatherings with attendees who live in the same area,” the CDC writes.)

• What is the behavior of attendees prior to the gathering? (The less people tend to wash their hands, wear masks and keep distance, the greater the risk.)

• What behavior do you expect from attendees during the gathering? (See above.)

The CDC post also describes people who “should not attend in-person holiday celebrations.” The list includes those who have been diagnosed with COVID-19 and have not met criteria for when it is safe to gather with others; people with symptoms of the coronavirus; people awaiting COVID-19 viral test results; people who may have been exposed to someone with COVID-19 in the last 14 days; people at increased risk of severe illness from COVID-19.