Small Gatherings Are Causing COVID-19 Spikes. Here's What To Know

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This fall, as schools reopen and the weather cools, medical experts have worried about potential spikes in COVID-19 cases. But public places that have enforced strict mask-wearing, sanitizing and social distancing guidelines have largely been safe. What have been causing spikes in COVID-19 cases are small gatherings at home, when friends and family let their guard down.

“In these cases, people are taking their masks off to eat or they’re not wearing masks at all,” says Allison Weinmann, M.D., an infectious disease specialist with Henry Ford Health System. “There’s a trust there—you think someone you love wouldn’t make you sick. People think they’re in a safe place. It may not be intentional, but this creates risk.”

Because you can contract COVID-19 and spread it to others while remaining asymptomatic, we must all be careful to protect those around us. People may be fatigued—they’re tired of not seeing friends and family, they’re tired of wearing masks—but COVID-19 is still a threat. “We have to remember that although this is how our lives are now, the threat of COVID-19 will recede when we are all vaccinated," says Dr. Weinmann. 

Safely Socializing With Friends And Family

Until then, however, we have to think of safe, creative ways to socialize. “This fall and winter may be different than those past,” says Dr. Weinmann. “We just have to think outside the box.”

While spending time with others virtually is the safest option, Dr. Weinmann shares how you can lower the risk of transmission when socializing in person.

  1. Stay outdoors. The outside air reduces the concentration of COVID-19 droplets, as opposed to stale indoor air. “Find ways to extend the life of your patio in cooler weather,” says Dr. Weinmann. “Get space heaters, blankets and bundle up.” (It’s also easier to socially distance outside!)
  2. Bring your own food. This will reduce the amount of shared items. You can also prepare individually wrapped meals that have been portioned out for each person.
  3. Have drive-by parties. “People have been doing drive-by birthday parties, and that’s a good idea,” says Dr. Weinmann. “Eat cake in your cars, talk from a distance. These inventive ideas will make them special events to remember.”
  4. Take advantage of the weather. “Use every day that’s not freezing, raining or snowing to get some fresh air or take a socially distanced walk with a friend,” says Dr. Weinmann. “Getting outside may help prevent some of the restlessness that comes with wanting to socialize.”
  5. Wear a mask. Wearing a cloth face covering is a scientifically proven way to reduce COVID-19 transmission. Make sure it is fitted and that it covers the bridge of your nose and extends below the chin. “Let’s help keep each other motivated and upbeat about this, and sooner or later, it will all be in the past,” says Dr. Weinmann.
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To learn more about safety precautions at our facilities, ways to get care at Henry Ford, or for details on our response to COVID-19, visit henryford.com or call (800) 436-7936. 

Dr. Allison Weinmann is an infectious disease specialist and sees patients at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit.

Categories: FeelWell