It’s been about one year since I wrote the post, “Your Thanksgiving could be a superspreading event.” This post, inspired by a question I received from a reader, explained that a superspreading event occurs when one person infects many others with the coronavirus in a short period of time. I also went over how we identify these events and where they tend to occur—typically in crowded, indoor, poorly ventilated settings where people are packed together for long periods of time.
I ended the post by arguing that Thanksgiving celebrations, along with transportation and other activities along the way to those celebrations, could potentially become superspreading events. This year, the risk of spreading COVID-19 at a holiday gathering is still present—but for many gatherings, it’s much more manageable thanks to vaccines.
If you’re planning a holiday gathering this year, here are a couple of resources I’d recommend:
- Upcoming holiday season (Your Local Epidemiologist): In this post, Dr. Katelyn Jetelina goes through a couple of different potential scenarios for holiday gatherings based on vaccine levels. If everyone is fully vaccinated, she writes, “approach the celebration like we did before the pandemic.” If not, more safety layers—such as encouraging new vaccinations, testing, and ventilation—may be useful.
- Preparing for the holidays? Don’t forget rapid tests for COVID-19 (Harvard Health Publishing): This article, by Dr. Robert Shmerling, focuses more on the role of COVID-19 tests; Shmerling suggests that holiday hosts may offer rapid tests as guests arrive, or require a PCR test as a prerequesite to the gathering. He acknowledges, however, that rapid tests are currently pricey in the U.S. and come with other caveats.
- What 5 health experts advise for holiday travel this year (Washington Post): For the unvaccinated, “your recommendations are identical to what they were last year,” Ohio State University’s Iahn Gonsenhauser told WaPo. But for the vaccinated, travel and gatherings are safer; the experts quoted in this article recommend asking about the vaccination status of other holiday guests, packing rapid tests, and making a backup plan in case someone tests positive.
But even the best resources cannot cover every possible scenario. So, I’d like to open this up for reader questions: What do you want to know about COVID-19 as we head into the 2021 holiday season?