WACO, Texas — The U.S. is approaching our second holiday season during the pandemic, again raising concerns about increased spread around family gatherings. Experts say right now is the best time to start COVID precautions for your holiday plans.
"What I don't want is for you to show up on Aunt Sally's doorstep on Thursday morning ready to eat turkey and then start having conversations on how you're going to be safe," said Dr. James McDeavitt, dean of clinical affairs at Baylor College of Medicine.
McDeavitt recently released a Holiday Bubble guide to help people calculate the risk level for their gatherings.
"It's almost equally wrong to overreact and to deny ourselves the opportunity to get together for the holidays," he said. "I think it's equally wrong to pretend there is not a problem and just throw caution to the wind and say let's go back to life as normal. We have to find some middle ground."
That's where the holiday bubble comes in.
Step one is to assess the risk of those who plan to gather and figure out who's vaccinated and who might be high risk.
Step two is to look at the COVID activity where you're meeting and where guests are coming from.
The final step is to take into account your personal concern for the virus
Dr. McDeavitt's plan offers a number system for each step which can be added up to decide the level of risk for the event.
"If you score high risk, I think you need to avoid restaurants, crowded indoor spaces, sporting events, hanging out at the mall with a million people," McDeavitt said. "If you score low risk, I think all of those things are probably okay and generally safe."
Dr. McDeavitt said the best way to protect yourself from COVID is to get the vaccine. You're not considered fully vaccinated until two weeks after your last shot.
"It might be too late to be fully vaccinated for Thanksgiving, but we still have the December holidays coming," Dr. McDeavitt said.