Being surrounded by strangers in restaurants, bars, and places of worship may seem like the most dangerous situations when it comes to contracting COVID-19. This is why many people are staying closer to home, spending time with close friends and family instead. However, according to the Director of the CDC, the people you know and love may be exposing you to the incredibly infectious virus. Coronavirus virus cases are spiking around the country as a result of family gatherings. Read on, and to ensure your health and the health of others, don’t miss these Sure Signs You’ve Already Had Coronavirus.
Family Events Causing Spread
“In the public square, we’re seeing a higher degree of vigilance and mitigation steps in many jurisdictions,” US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Robert Redfield said during a call with America’s governors on Tuesday. “But what we’re seeing as the increasing threat right now is actually acquisition of infection through small household gatherings,” Redfield said. “Particularly with Thanksgiving coming up, we think it’s really important to stress the vigilance of these continued mitigation steps in the household setting.”
Mitigation steps include wearing your face mask, avoid crowds, being indoors only with people you’re sheltering with, staying outdoors more than indoors when with those you’re not sheltering with, and practicing good hand hygiene.
CNN obtained audio of the call.
Family events causing spread had been the case in San Bernardino County in California, reports ABC7. In the month between mid-June to mid-July a whopping 71% of COVID-19 patients reported attending a family event two weeks prior to being diagnosed with the potentially fatal virus.
Contact tracers from the county’s Department of Health interviewed 319 people, hoping to get to the root of the outbreak. They found that up to 228 had attended a large gathering.
Similar data has been reported in Maryland. In the summer, the state’s Governor, Larry Hogan, tweeted that 44% of new cases in the state were linked to family gatherings, 23% from house parties, and 21% events held outdoors.
In North Texas, a single birthday party was responsible for an outbreak that infected 18 individuals, some of whom were elderly or high risk due to other health conditions, WFAA reported. And, one Father’s Day celebration at a restaurant led to six family members becoming infected, and the patriarch of the family, Oscar Del Toro, losing his life to the virus.
The CDC has been warning against any sort of gatherings—both big and small—since the beginning of the pandemic. “The more people an individual interacts with at a gathering and the longer that interaction lasts, the higher the potential risk of becoming infected with COVID-19 and COVID-19 spreading,” they explain on their website. “The higher the level of community transmission in the area that the gathering is being held, the higher the risk of COVID-19 spreading during a gathering.”
Birx Had Also Sounded the Alarm
White House Coronavirus Task Force member Dr. Deborah Birx has been concerned about these types of gatherings, especially in problem areas. “If you’re in a red or yellow county bringing together family members will create potentially, particularly if indoors, super spreader events and we’re finding that across the South and really up into the Midwest,” she said during a phone call obtained by the Center for Public Integrity, earlier this summer.
Houston Methodist Hospital devoted an entire article to the high risk of family gatherings, urging against them and pointing out that social distancing doesn’t exclude blood relatives. “The reality is that a family gathering is, unfortunately, just as unsafe as any other social gathering,” they say. “Social distancing includes reducing close contact with people who are not a part of your household — even if he or she is a part of your extended family.”
“Rather than planning an in-person gathering during the COVID-19 pandemic, the safest way to stay connected with your family is to gather virtually,” they suggest. If you do decide to go ahead with in-person plans they suggest limiting the guest list, keeping members outdoors as much as possible, social distancing, avoid food sharing and provide everyone with their own plastic utensils, keep the event short, and provide a direct route to the restroom. And to get through this pandemic at your healthiest, don’t miss these 35 Places You’re Most Likely to Catch COVID.