COVID-19 Makes Family Reunions Risky

Many families organize a family reunion during the summer months. Things that were considered “normal” before the COVID-19 pandemic are now risky.

Social Distancing is important. The CDC recommends holding gatherings outdoors, when possible. If that is not possible, make sure the space is well ventilated by opening up some windows.

Make sure tables and chairs are arranged to allow for social distancing. People from the same household can be in groups together without being six feet apart. Each family group must be at least six feet away from each other at all times.

People should wear masks when they are less than six feet away from each other, whether outside or inside. Those who host or organize a family gathering should let everyone know that social distancing is expected, and that everyone is required to wear a mask. Have a plan for how to deal with relatives who show up without a mask and refuse to wear one that you provide for them.

Keep a list of the names of everyone who attends the family reunion. This will come in handy if someone who attended the gathering is later diagnosed with COVID-19. The list will make it easy for you to provide contact tracing to those who were in contact with that person at the reunion.

Avoid close contact by waving as a greeting. Don’t shake hands, do elbow bumps, or give hugs.

It is important to consider how risky an in-person family reunion would be for relatives who are immune-compromised, are receiving cancer treatment, are on dialysis, are diabetic, or are caring for someone who is. Not being invited to the reunion could make a relative feel left out.

The safest way to hold a family reunion during the COVID-19 pandemic is to do it online. Family members can talk to each other in groups without taking the risk of spreading the virus.

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