Submitted by the Whatcom County Health Department
Time with friends and family is precious and important for our mental and physical health. It can be tempting to put the COVID-19 pandemic out of our minds or to downplay the seriousness of it, especially if no one in your circle has been infected. But across our state, COVID-19 rates continue to rise, and social gatherings are one of the main drivers behind the rapid spread.
If you are going to gather with friends and family who don’t live with you, stick with these tips to limit the spread of COVID-19.
Think Party of Five:
Don’t go to get togethers with more than five people, and keep it to one or two gatherings a week. When we see fewer people less often, there is less of a chance of unknowingly spreading COVID-19. There is also less of a chance that it might be hitching a ride from one gathering to another.
Keep those Five healthy:
Stay in close communication with your five, and be sure that they are not feeling sick or engaging in risky behaviors, like gathering with large groups of people. COVID-19 can spread before symptoms are developed, so it’s important that even if everyone is feeling healthy, everyone in your five has also been maintaining their healthy habits.
Use those face coverings.
- Use face coverings as much as possible. If you can’t stay six feet away from one another – masks go on and stay on. If you’re indoors, everyone should wear a face covering at all times.
If you’re not feeling well, stay away.
- Do not go to gatherings if you feel sick, even a little bit sick. Even if you’re pretty sure it’s just allergies. If you have any symptoms that might be related to COVID-19, call your doctor and see if you should get tested.
Do not go to gatherings if someone at home is sick.
- Even if you feel great, if someone you live with is sick, quarantining, or isolating at home because of exposure or diagnosis with COVID-19 you could be contagious and not know it.
- If you do have to have contact with someone outside of your household, and there is a sick person, or someone is quarantining or isolating in the home because of exposure or diagnosis with COVID-19, wear a face covering at all times, especially if you are indoors.
- Wash your hands and use hand sanitizer as often as you can.
Do not host gatherings if you’re sick or someone in your house is sick.
- If anyone in your household isn’t feeling well, you should cancel or reschedule your gathering. Follow our guidance on what to do if you or your household member is feeling sick.
Outside gatherings are better than inside.
- The breeze and fresh air is safer. More space makes physical distancing easier, and you’re less likely to contact something that may have been contaminated by droplets. We’re also more likely to wash our hands before eating or touching our face if we’re outside. Remember to continue to keep six feet of physical distance when gathering outside.
Keeping it short keeps it safer.
We know people can catch COVID-19 when in close contact with someone who is infectious. Close contact means being within six feet of someone who is infected for about 15 minutes.
Close contact can also mean having direct contact with secretions from someone with COVID-19. Yes, it sounds gross. Contact with secretions can happen by being coughed on, sharing utensils, or kissing someone who is infectious. People can be infectious without ever feeling sick or before having symptoms. You can’t really be sure whether you’re spreading COVID-19 or around someone who is. The less time you spend with someone outside your household, the lower your chances of unknowingly spreading, or catching COVID-19.
Our individual actions affect those beyond us. When we take steps like “Finding our Five,” we are protecting ourselves, our family, friends, and community. We each have the ability to stop the spread of COVID-19.