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As COVID-19 Cases Rise, Spread Cheer, Not Germs

December 16, 2020 11:22 AM
by Lindsay B. Call

As COVID-19 Cases Rise, Spread Cheer, Not Germs

Throughout 2020, I have had to be the frequent bearer of bad news for City staff and residents alike regarding changes to our daily lives due COVID-19. This responsibility has brought me no joy and has also prompted the cancellations and closure of some of my favorite activities. However, my North Star throughout the past nine months has been to do what it takes to save lives so that all families can have all of their family members at next year’s winter holidays.  

Unfortunately, COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations, and deaths are surging in Los Angeles County and across the United States.  Locally, Santa Monica saw its highest week of new cases since the pandemic began. So again, I have to implore the public to make changes to their favorite rituals to keep our community healthy.  

2020 has been tough on all of us and we all need joy this year. But while people are encouraged to be festive and celebrate the season, I caution that it must be balanced with great care for the health of those around you.  To help lower your holiday stress, here are some tips to mitigate the risks of spreading germs this season. 

Safely Celebrate 

 

If there is any year to try, 2020 is the year to try a different holiday traditionGather in spirit, not in person. Virtual gatherings are safest for both the host and attendees. They are truly the only way to ensure you prevent the spread of COVID-19 to friends and family.  

  • Have a cook/bake-off with extended family from the safety of everyone’s own home. Take photos of the meal and vote which family member pulled off the dish the best! Take your cook/bake off to the next festive level by using one these Zoom backgrounds. 
  • Host a virtual Secret Santa, themed gift exchange, or try one of these 46 fun, gift exchange ideas! 
  • Share secret family recipes with one another so that if meals are eaten apart, the same great food can be enjoyed.  
  • Support our local businesses and take a break from cooking. Check out this list of your favorite Santa Monica restaurants and grocers with holiday take-out and catering specials! 
  • Host a virtual game night! Trivia, Pictionary, and even bingo can be done virtually! Ugly holiday sweaters are optional.  
  • Many musicians, DJs, and entertainers are available to entertain guests on a virtual call.  

Get Cozy, Don’t Gather with Others

   

Visual credit: LA Times 

In order to celebrate in person next year, every household needs to stay at home as much as possible this holiday season. Please do not gather or attend/host in-person events with those that live outside your immediate household. Be polite and cancel plans now to give the host time to make changes.  

Workplace potlucks and parties where food and drink are shared by those without wearing a mask also poses significant risks. While these events have the best intentions, they can cause serious workplace outbreaks and disease amongst friends and colleagues.  

We have seen a tremendous surge in hospitalizations after Thanksgiving that threatens the lives of LA County residents and jeopardizes our local hospitals’ capacity to care for its most critical patients. Give the gift of good health to your loved ones and our essential workers. Get cozy this holiday season and stay at home with your household as much as possible 


Travel  

 

COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations, and deaths across the United States are rising. Per the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, travel can increase both your chance of spreading and contracting COVID-19. The best way to protect yourself and your loved ones is to postpone travel. Most airlines are offering travel waivers to be flexible and support travelers’ needs to change or cancel plans. Consider celebrating holidays in 2021 with your family once conditions are safer and vaccinations have been distributed.  

If you have a known exposure to COVID-19, you need to delay travel and follow quarantine order requirements. If you are ill or have tested positive for COVID-19, do not travel and isolate as directed. Do not travel with anyone who is ill, even if they say they’ve tested negative for COVID-19.  

Governor Newsom issued a travel advisory urging visitors entering California or returning home from travel to self-quarantine to slow the spread of the virus. The travel advisory urges against non-essential out-of-state travel, asks people to self-quarantine for 14 days after arriving from another state or country, and encourages residents to stay local. In addition, the travel advisory also recommends Californians stay home or in their region and limit their interactions to their immediate household. 

To help stop the spread of COVID-19, Los Angeles is requiring all travelers over the age of 16 entering the city from another state or country to fill out an online form, acknowledging that they have read and understood California’s travel advisory, which states that “Persons arriving in California from other states or countries, including returning California residents, should practice self-quarantine for 14 days after arrival.” Travelers must submit this form online prior to or upon arrival at Los Angeles International Airport, Van Nuys Airport, or Union Station. The form can be found at travel.lacity.org. 

For more information about the risk that travel itself poses for COVID-19 exposure, please visit the CDC page on travel risks. 


Shopping 

While holiday shopping might be a tradition, this year it is best to skip the lines and crowds.  

  • Buy local and support our small businesses that could use our love (and cash) more than ever! Check out our list of local Santa Monica businesses 
  • Ensure you have a face covering and hand sanitizer to use during your trip. Wash your hands thoroughly once you get home. 
  • Consider shopping during off-peak hours. 
  • Call local businesses to see if they offer curbside pick-up or delivery options. 
  • Have only one person per household do essential errands and visit stores. This helps reduce your family’s exposure and reduces crowding in businesses. 
  • Shop online, even small businesses have created online shopping portals to enhance customer safety. 

Spread Hope to Those In Need 

The holiday season is all about giving. So many have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, whether directly from the disease or the economic impact it has had. Consider providing much needed donations to local non-profits who are supporting local families in need. SantaMonica.gov/coronavirus-volunteer   

If you or a friend are looking for food resources this holiday season, the City of Santa Monica is hosting a free food drive-thru event on Wednesday, December 23 in partnership with LA County Supervisor Sheila Kuehl, Los Angeles Regional Food Bank, Los Angeles County departments, and Barker Hangar. Learn more here and for additional local food resources visit santamonica.gov/coronovirus-resources 


Holiday Support

As we modify our traditions, let’s all take a moment away from the holiday hustle and reflect on how much we have to be thankful for this year. I am so thankful for being able to serve a community that has demonstrated incredible resilience through unprecedented challenges. My thanks to each of you for doing your part to keep our community strong throughout 2020 

 

Cheers to a healthy and happy holiday season!  

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