The holidays are going to look a lot different this year due to COVID-19.
Every year millions of Americans pile into each other’s homes to celebrate the season with food, family, and football. That urge has never been stronger than this year. With millions of people working from home and many states enacting safer-at-home measures, Americans are feeling the financial, physical, and mental health effects of living in a coronavirus-infected world.
But in addition to practicing social distancing, there are several things you can do to remain healthy while minimizing the risk of contracting and spreading COVID-19 (or any illness).
1) Consult local, state, and federal guidelines and restrictions before traveling.
According to the CDC, “travel increases the chance of getting and spreading the virus that causes COVID-19. Staying home is the best way to protect yourself and others.” And as COVID-19 cases continue to spike throughout the country, many experts are urging Americans to avoid holiday travel.
Many states are imposing new limitations on gathering sizes, extending mask mandates, and even issuing mandatory quarantine periods (or negative COVID-19 test) for people traveling from other states. If you or your loved ones are considering traveling internationally during the holidays, please be sure to make sure the country you are traveling to is granting entry to travelers from your point of origin.
2) Embrace video chat.
Technology can help us feel connected to our loved ones when we can’t be there in person—something that has proven to be essential for so many people this year.
Video calls have skyrocketed in popularity this year professionally and personally. Zoom did its part to bring people together safely by lifting their 40-minute limit on free meetings for Thanksgiving Day this year.
Consider using video chat services or avoiding in-person contact altogether through the holidays if you or a family member are at a high risk of contracting the COVID-19 virus.
3) Do your holiday shopping online.
You may want to consider skipping the check-out lines this year and put your health first by shopping for gifts online.
Traditional brick and mortar stores will still be dangerous areas despite heightened cleaning measures. The CDC has listed “Going shopping in crowded stores just before, on, or after Thanksgiving” as a higher-risk activity.
Due to the anticipated surge of online shoppers this season, many big-name retailers have announced changes to their traditional holiday sales such as online-only sales, online pick-up options, and more.
4) Wear a mask around others.
Studies continue to affirm the effectiveness of wearing a mask in helping to prevent the spread of COVID-19. And both local and federal government branches have cited the importance of wearing a mask when around other people who do not live in your home. So if you find yourself going out in public or spending time with friends and family, consider wearing a mask to protect yourself and others.
5) Find the right health insurance coverage.
Modern medicine has yet to fully discover the long-term effects of COVID-19 but there are many health conditions scientists can already link to the virus.
According to the Mayo Clinic, “COVID-19 symptoms can sometimes persist for months. The virus can damage the lungs, heart and brain, which increases the risk of long-term health problems.”
Having health insurance coverage for you and your family can help cover the cost of both major and preventative medical care – and now is the best time to get coverage. The annual individual health Open Enrollment period began on November 1 and runs through December 15.
This is the only time of year to enroll in ACA-compliant health coverage unless you experience a Qualifying Life Event.