Social Gatherings During COVID-19
Dr. Rob Kidnie is a Family Medicine Resident at the University of Mississippi Medical Center. Prior to becoming a physician, he spent thirteen years as an Army Officer. Dr. Rob Kidnie is answering some hard questions about daily life under COVID-19 and is offering ways we can protect our loved ones and help slow the spread.
We face a stark reality in Mississippi this summer. As a state, we have not done a great job curbing the spread of COVID-19 over the past four months. We took drastic steps in March and April and saw encouraging trends, but as time went on, collective efforts waned and eventually the number of COVID-19 cases began rising again. At the time of writing, Mississippi’s single-day peak new case count was 1,230 on July 16th and unfortunately the number of cases show no sign of slowing.
As Family Physicians, we continue to see our patients in clinic, and we appreciate the desire to return to life as we knew it. We also recognize that doing so will make our predicament worse. Without a doubt, getting together with friends and family is important for mental health and coping with COVID-related stress. But it is not without significant risk. Many of us have embraced video conferencing at work and the reality is that where possible, platforms like FaceTime, Zoom, Skype and WhatsApp should be used for social gatherings as well.
If you are absolutely committed to hosting an in person gathering though, it is essential you are aware of the most recent guidelines published by the Mississippi State Department of Health on COVID-19. They can be found on MSDH website. And in keeping with these guidelines, here are some suggestions to hosting a safer gathering:
- Host your event outdoors. It is particularly challenging in the Mississippi summer, but if everyone does it in 2020, maybe it won’t be so necessary in 2021.
- Set the example. Avoid handshakes and hugs while acknowledging the elephant in the room. Your guests will appreciate your awareness of the situation.
- Offer hand sanitizer at the door. Buy some local hand sanitizer in a big bottle and transfer it into smaller containers from the dollar store to offer your guests when they arrive.
- Practice physical distancing. Space your seats so guests are separated by at least 6ft.
- Avoid situations where guests might congregate. Space your food and drinks over multiple tables to encourage your guests to spread out. Serve individual plates where possible and avoid finger foods. Prepackaged, disposable cutlery is also helpful.