COVID During the Holidays

Olivia Frantum, Staff Writer

2020 has been a strange year for everyone, and it keeps changing all the time. “My plans for the holiday season this year are a lot different than normal,” Jenna Westendorf ‘23 said. A sentence that many people are saying this year, not just about the holidays, but 2020 in general.

This year is way different than any other, and people are learning and adapting as they go. The holidays this year, like everything else will be very different, but there are still safe ways to have them. The CDC has put out the recommendation that people do not travel and gather for the holidays, but what are safe options for families to do instead of their usual gatherings?

This Thanksgiving, the amount of people traveling did decrease, but not by as much as health experts warned. Many people still flew to different parts of the US despite the warnings not to. Thanksgiving week, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) counted over 3 million people clearing airport security in three days. While this number is half of what it was in 2019, that does not mean that people are safer. According to data collected by the Washington Post, Covid related hospitalizations have already risen by more than 12%.

Many people spend the winter holidays with their extended family, whether it be grandparents or cousins, but how can they do it safely this year with Covid? One option that many families decided was safer was planning to have the holidays over Zoom. “Due to Covid, we decided early this year that we wouldn’t feel comfortable with that so we will be stuck in cold Iowa weather, cooped up in our house, and having to see them over zoom,” Kieran Brown ‘23 said. Although some people might see staying in Iowa, stuck in your house a bummer, many families feel that this is the safest option for them.

Another option for families is a gift exchange, but instead of meeting like usual, they just ship them to the person’s house. “Everyone’s staying home and we are still doing the gift exchange, but everyone is mailing their gifts to each other and we are going to do a zoom call to open all of the gifts together,” Westendorf said. While this may not be practical for some families, it is a good way to stay in the holiday spirit.

Some families were going through a rough time, with  themselves or other members of their families being sick on thanksgiving. “This year, we had multiple family members in the hospital on thanksgiving and were unable to gather with extended family,” Ellie Lashier said.

Though they were faced with a horrible, but not  all that uncommon situation,  the Lashier family made the best of it, grateful for all the things that they did have.  “I was especially thankful this year for my sweet little sisters, going to an incredible school district with thoughtful leaders, and making music,” Lashier said.

While these are unprecedented times, there are many fun ways to stay safe and meet with family through the winter holidays. Some of the safest options include, meeting with family over zoom, postponing holiday celebrating, getting tested before and after traveling, and taking standard precautions like washing hands, wiping things down, wearing a mask, and socially distancing.