Despite the pull of family celebrations over the upcoming holidays, such as Diwali, Thanksgiving, Rosh Hashanah and Christmas, public health authorities strongly discourage bringing members of different households together because of the potential to spread the coronavirus.
"Indoor gatherings are particularly risky, and gatherings should be held outdoors to the greatest extent possible," Santa Clara County's latest Risk Reduction Order states.
However, the state as of Oct. 9 does allow outdoor private gatherings of no more than three households, providing attendees follow public health rules of maintaining social distance, wearing masks, practicing good hygiene and more.
Gatherings should also be kept short — two hours or less, according to the state's guidelines.
Anyone who is feeling sick with COVID-19-like symptoms, has been exposed to someone with the coronavirus recently, has been tested for COVID-19 and either not yet received the results of the test or tested positive should stay home, multiple health guidelines state.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) notes that several factors contribute to the risk of getting infected or infecting others with the virus, and family members need to consider those before planning to celebrate together. Those include the levels of COVID-19 in the communities in which they live and to which they're traveling; the behaviors of other family members prior to the gathering (people who engage in risky behaviors endanger those who practice preventative measures); and the numbers of people who will be at the event — fewer is better.
Taking what may seem like extreme precautions can also help ensure that the holiday is a happy one — both during and afterward. The CDC advises people who decide to attend an in-person holiday gathering to strictly avoid contact with people outside of their household for 14 days before the event.
It does not mention getting tested for the coronavirus before the holiday, perhaps because the test doesn't detect antibodies in people who are very recently exposed, although in combination with a 14-day pre-holiday quarantine, a negative test result could only increase people's peace of mind.
Find comprehensive coverage on the Midpeninsula's response to the new coronavirus by Palo Alto Online, the Mountain View Voice and the Almanac here.