Upcoming Holiday Celebrations and COVID-19

Mary Madison, RN, RAC-CT, CDP
Clinical Consultant – Briggs Healthcare

On Monday, September 21, 2020, CMS provided Holiday Celebrations guidance that is pertinent to our communities at large as well as to those individuals that enter/work in LTC facilities and other congregate living communities.

“As many people in the United States begin to plan for fall and winter holiday celebrations, CDC offers the following considerations to help protect individuals, their families, friends, and communities from COVID-19. These considerations are meant to supplement—not replace—any state, local, territorial, or tribal health and safety laws, rules, and regulations with which holiday gatherings must comply. When planning to host a holiday celebration, you should assess current COVID-19 levels in your community to determine whether to postpone, cancel, or limit the number of attendees.”

There’s a good deal of excellence considerations and guidance on all of the upcoming fall and winter celebrations.  Let’s look specifically at Halloween as that is about a month away.  It’s always a fun holiday for nursing homes and the employees who have children (childless employees are also known to attend Halloween parties as well).  We know that COVID-19 is introduced into a congregate living environment via the employees so start working with your staff now to keep COVID-19 from entering (or re-entering) your building during the holidays.  You’ll also benefit from following this guidance to minimize the introduction of the flu as well.

Many traditional Halloween activities can be high-risk for spreading viruses. There are several safer, alternative ways to participate in Halloween. If you have COVID-19 or you may have been exposed to someone with COVID-19, you should not participate in in-person Halloween festivities and should not give out candy to trick-or-treaters.  I further suggest that you look at your county’s positivity rate for the past 7 to 10 days before making plans for parties or celebrations outside your own home or facility.

CDC has identified different groups of Halloween activities based on risk (see below for those charts from the guidance).  I strongly encourage you to start working with your staff, residents and families on ways you can enjoy Halloween as well as the other upcoming holidays in 2020 and early 2021.  Lives will depend on how you manage the next several months.