Which is Riskier: Building a Snowman or Celebrating New Year’s Eve at a Bar?
By David Doolittle


The holidays are normally a time for gathering with family and friends – at houses, skating rinks, even on hayrides. It’s also a time for shopping at stores and craft markets, attending sports events and religious ceremonies, and watching holiday films and fireworks displays.

But because of the COVID-19 pandemic – and the social distancing recommended to stop its spread – this holiday season will be anything but normal.

So how will your patients know which activities are riskier for catching and spreading COVID-19 than others?

To help shed some light on that question, the Texas Medical Association has created a chart that ranks various holiday traditions and activities based on how risky they are.

Among the least risky items on the chart are shopping for gifts online, building a snowman with your household, and donating canned food. The riskiest activities include attending a homecoming dance, attending a college house party, and celebrating New Year’s Eve at a bar or nightclub.

The chart, also available in black and white for printing, is similar to one TMA created earlier this year that shows which common activities put people at greater risk of COVID-19.

Spanish-language versions also are available in color and black and white.

“Please assume participants in these activities are following currently recommended safety protocols, including social distancing, mask wearing, and washing hands frequently,” the holiday risk chart says. “The more people, the closer together, the fewer the masks, the more mingling indoors, the longer the time, the more singing and voice projection, and the more alcohol – the greater the risk.”

Visit TMA’s COVID-19 Social Media Toolkit to download the new risk chart and other social graphics to share.

But that’s not all.

TMA also has published a TMA Practice Well podcast episode that features Trish Perl, MD, discussing how to safely enjoy the holidays with family and other loved ones.

Dr. Perl is chief of the division of infectious diseases at UT Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas and a member of the COVID-19 Task Force.

Find the Holiday Risk Chart and the podcast episode on the TMA COVID-19 Resource Center, which is continually updated with the latest news, tools and resources.


Last Updated On

November 25, 2020

Originally Published On

November 17, 2020

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David Doolittle


(512) 370-1385

Dave Doolittle is editor of Texas Medicine and Texas Medicine Today. Dave grew up in Austin, where he attended culinary school as well as the University of Texas. He spent years covering Central Texas for the Austin American-Statesman newspaper. He is the father of two girls, a proud Longhorn, and an avid motorsports fan.

More stories by David Doolittle