EXPERT: Quarantine now if you plan to see family this Christmas

Updated: Dec. 16, 2020 at 9:03 PM EST
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - With the Christmas holiday next week, health experts recommend quarantining before gathering with loved ones. But warns people are running out of time to isolate.

Quarantining for 14 days after a possible exposure to COVID-19 is still the recommended length of time, according to the CDC. However, the agency says there is a reduced risk of spread if someone quarantines for 10 days while monitoring for symptoms and for seven days after receiving a negative COVID-19 test.

University of South Carolina Infectious Disease Expert Dr. Melissa Nolan said taking extra precautions ahead of Christmas is crucial.

“I’m like everyone else. I have grandparents who my kids want to see, we’re dealing with the same problems that everyone else. We want to see our family but we want to do it in a safe manner. The reality is this is a scary time. This is the first time that the pandemic I’ve gotten really nervous,” Nolan said.

South Carolina has seen spikes in coronavirus cases after major holidays, Nolan said. But unlike the Fourth of July or Thanksgiving, Christmas is a global holiday, which makes it a more dangerous day during this pandemic.

“We anticipate that there is going to be a large amount of travel occurring, so we anticipate we will see one of the largest waves of transmission that we’ve seen to date,” she warned.

In addition to increased travel and mobility, a meta-analysis published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that homes are one of the most dangerous COVID-19 hot spots.

“Households are and will continue to be important venues for transmission, even where community transmission is reduced,” wrote the study’s authors.

Nolan said if people are unwilling to cancel any holiday plans, quarantining can at least reduce the risk of disease spread.

“If you can, everyone in your household [should] shelter-in-place. And whoever you’re going to see if they can also shelter in place, that’s probably your best bet. That doesn’t mean that you couldn’t still get transmission and along the way on the actual drive or on the plane, but it lowers your chances,” she said.

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