November 17, 2020
How risky is traveling over the river and through the woods to grandmother’s house during a pandemic? Physicians of the Texas Medical Association (TMA) COVID-19 Task Force and TMA Committee on Infectious Diseases announce two new tools to help Texans enjoy holiday activities while avoiding things that pose the greatest risk of spreading COVID-19: A new infographic and podcast.
TMA’s new “Know Your Risk This Holiday Season” chart could provide the answers Texans need to choose holiday activities with the least COVID-19 risk. TMA physician members ranked many of the holiday traditions that bring people together – but also could spread the coronavirus. The new TMA chart is a follow-up to the COVID-19 risk assessment chart released this summer that sparked worldwide headlines and 3 million online views and counting. The new chart ranks 34 holiday activities from least to most risky so holiday revelers can make informed choices during the busiest travel and social-gathering season of the year.
El Paso infectious disease specialist and TMA COVID-19 Task Force member Ogechika Alozie, MD, said there is public demand for safety messages as the seasons change. “People are asking, ‘How social can I be during the holidays? What is safe or not safe?’” Dr. Alozie said. “So the Task Force really wanted to be diligent about calling out certain activities and give people a compass to guide their behavior.”
Physicians rated the activities from 1 (least risk) to 10 (riskiest) assuming that participants would wear a mask when practical, stay at least 6 feet away from people who are not household members, and wash their hands frequently. The holiday chart rates shopping online, participating in a virtual holiday run, and watching movies at home with members of your household a least-risky “one” rating.
“Where there are less people or more ability to social or physically distance, that is going to be safer,” said TMA COVID-19 Task Force member and UT Southwestern Medical Center infectious disease specialist Trish Perl, MD. “Think of other ways to connect, like Facetime, and include them in the celebration without physically being there. Remember, no hugs for grandma this year.”
On the riskier end of the scale, the doctors give a 10 rating to activities like large indoor parties with people mingling, drinking alcohol, and talking with no social distancing for an extended period of time. The physicians believe these would be among the riskiest behaviors in terms of potentially spreading COVID-19.
In TMA’s newest Practice Well podcast, Dr. Perl said balancing attempts to avoid risk while pursuing holiday traditions can help reduce COVID-19 fatigue and still allow people to gather.
“This is the new normal, and until we really see that we have something like a vaccine or other measures that are going to prevent transmission, this is going to be our new normal,” Dr. Perl said in the podcast. “Stay safe, and everybody remember your three w’s: wear your mask, watch your distance, and wash your hands!”
TMA is the largest state medical society in the nation, representing more than 53,000 physician and medical student members. It is located in Austin and has 110 component county medical societies around the state. TMA’s key objective since 1853 is to improve the health of all Texans.
Contact: Brent Annear (512) 370-1381; cell: (512) 656-7320
Marcus Cooper (512) 370-1382; cell: (512) 650-5336
Connect with TMA on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.
Check out MeAndMyDoctor.com for interesting and timely news on health care issues and policy.