Perspective: Smaller Holiday Gatherings Slow Spread of COVID-19

Perspective: Smaller Holiday Gatherings Slow Spread of COVID-19

2020 has been an interesting year.

I can’t think of anything I would want more right now than to be with friends and family over the holidays. But with our current situation – cases of COVID-19 are rising not only in the State of Washington and across the country, but right here on the Olympic Peninsula – it’s never been more important to limit our gatherings to the people in our own home.

By doing that, you and I can keep our own families, as well as our extended families and friends, safe and healthy this holiday season.

The COVID-19 pandemic has affected every aspect of our daily lives. It’s been difficult. But we know how the virus spreads and what we can do to reduce the risk to ourselves and our loved ones.

The virus spreads from person to person through close contact. It can occur when we’re talking to one another. It can happen through droplets that are spread when someone coughs or sneezes. It can also take place when we touch an object where the virus is present.

In the winter months and especially during the holiday season, this is a typical time for any virus to spread. We’re seeing that in our own community right now, as COVID-19 cases continue to climb every day. Now is the time to be unified – while keeping our physical distance – to do our part in keeping the virus from spreading and keeping ourselves and our loved ones safe.

We can keep ourselves safe and reduce our risk in easy ways – wearing masks, practicing hand hygiene, maintaining physical distancing and limiting our exposure outside our own home. When we’re out and about, we need to keep our masks on. We should limit our ventures out into the community to essential shopping and activities. When we do go out, it’s important that we keep our physical distance – at least six feet – from people that are not part of our household – to reduce potential transmission. And of course, remember to wash and sanitize your hands throughout the day.

I know it’s difficult and frankly, sad, to not get together with our loved ones for the holidays. But we know that by doing so, we can reduce the potential of transmitting the COVID-19 virus to one another. By doing so, we can lower the rate of cases here in the community. We can keep ourselves safe. A growing number of cases is unsettling. As we have learned from others across the world, that likely means our hospital will soon be busy caring for patients very ill with COVID-19. If we can contain further spread, it keeps our hospital in better position to be able to care for all the other medical needs, illnesses and injuries that occur.

For my own family, my wife and our three children, this would normally be a time when we would get together with friends and family to share food, play games and enjoy each other’s company. That is not going to be the case this year. This is will be a unique holiday season for us, as it will just be our own family. We’ll still prepare our favorite dishes. We’ll still play our favorite games.  But we’ll connect with our friends and loved ones via Zoom.

With the holidays coming up, I know that we want to celebrate together, but by keeping our gatherings small and limiting them to the people in our own household, we reduce the risk of transmission to others.

Thank you for doing your part to slow the spread of COVID-19, to keep yourselves safe and to keep me safe so I may continue as a medical provider to be here for all of you during this time. Thank you for reconsidering your plans for the upcoming holidays, and keeping your gatherings small and safe.

The pandemic has been difficult on everyone, but we will make it through this if we work together. . Your community’s healthcare workers are doing their part too: People like me making the same sacrifices during the holiday season. Wishing you joy and good health this holiday season.

Paul Larsen is a certified physician assistant with Olympic Medical Physicians Primary Care Clinic.