Maui Discussion

Op-Ed: Maui Health Advice “Avoid a Superspreader Gathering this Thanksgiving”

November 25, 2020, 2:26 PM HST
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Op-ed Commentary
submitted by Kelly Catiel, Infection Control Manager, Maui Health

“Avoid a Superspreader Gathering this Thanksgiving”

Kelly Catiel, Infection Control Manager, Maui Health. PC: Maui Health/ Akakū.

Here in Hawai‘i, ‘ohana is central to our culture, and gathering with family and friends has been our way of life for generations. But COVID is still in our community. On the mainland, infections are surging, hospitals are filling up, and people are dying. We don’t want that to happen here. That’s why, as we head into Thanksgiving and the holiday season, it’s more important than ever that we celebrate safely.

The bottom line is the best way to protect yourself and your loved ones this Thanksgiving is to stay home and spend the day with the people in your own household. It’s safest to be with the people who live with you, because those are the people you already have close contact with every day.

Remember that COVID doesn’t discriminate, and it’s possible for someone to have COVID without feeling sick or having symptoms at all. Even if you love someone and trust them, you don’t know who else they might have been spending time with. If they’re out in the community, they are exposing you to every single other person they’ve been in contact with. They could be passing on the virus without knowing it — and so could you.

Instead of gathering in person, use technology to see your friends and family virtually. Set up a video call so you can chat while you prepare the meal or log on for a quick toast so everyone can see each other and send their love before sitting down to dinner. It’s safer, and it’s also a way you can include loved ones on the mainland in your celebration.

If you’re facing pressure from family members who want to gather in person, talk with them about why you’re choosing to stay home this year. Remember that because you love your family you want to protect them and keep them safe. Even if you are at low risk of complications from COVID, you don’t want to spread the virus to grandma or grandpa, or to family members who might have underlying medical conditions. By staying home this year, you can help make sure that everyone will still be here to celebrate next year.

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If you do decide to get together in person, take steps to reduce the risk that someone with COVID will spread the virus at your gathering. For indoor gatherings, make sure that you follow county guidelines and limit the size of your group to 10 people or less, including your own household. Consider moving your gathering outside if you can, since having good airflow can reduce the risk of airborne transmission.

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Whether you meet indoors or outdoors, follow the “Five W’s” to celebrate safely. Wear a mask or face covering. Wash your hands frequently. Watch your distance and stay at least six feet away from anyone who doesn’t live in your household. Wipe down surfaces. And lastly, wellness first! Don’t attend the gathering unless you feel well.

After living with this pandemic for nine months, we’re all getting tired of taking precautions and thinking about COVID all the time. But we can’t let down our guard. In fact, now is the time we need to be doubling down on staying safe.

We’re fortunate that our numbers on Maui are currently stable. But it only takes one or two “superspreader” events for that to change very quickly. So, this Thanksgiving, let’s show our gratitude by staying home and protecting each other and our community.

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We’ve worked too hard to keep Maui safe over the past nine months to give up now.

*****Views expressed in Op-Ed pieces are those of the author’s alone and do not reflect or represent the opinions, policies or positions of Maui Now.***** 

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