Safety and virus mitigation should be the watchwords for the winter holidays.
In an interview with the Bayonne Community News, Chief Hospital Executive at Bayonne Medical Center Dr. Vijay Singh detailed how to celebrate safely.
To feast or not to feast?
For residents having a traditional in-person Thanksgiving with their families, Singh said all individuals should have already been self-isolating or quarantining for 14 days.
If an individual hasn’t been in quarantine since Nov. 12, there is a potential risk of virus transmission. Even if individuals shows no symptoms, they could spread COVID-19.
The risk of contracting the virus during the holidays is especially high for the elderly and those with pre-existing conditions.
When greeting family members, Singh said to avoid handshakes and hugs. Family members should remain sociallly distant and avoid congregating in small areas.
Masks should be worn at all times.
Avoid too many cooks
Ensure food items are clean. Supplies should be cleaned, wiped down, and sanitized.
Fruits, vegetables, and meat must be washed and kept dry for hours before they’re cooked, Singh said. As few people as possible should be in the kitchen.
The family should not congregate at the same table to eat at the same time.
Singh suggests staggering meal times to avoid everyone sitting at the table without a mask. Elderly family members should eat first, and kids should eat with their parents.
While eating, masks should cover the nose while the mouth is uncovered.
The safest way to enjoy Thanksgiving dinner would be outdoors. If possible, set up an outdoor dining space.
If the meal takes place indoors, Singh said there needs to be ventilation in the house and recommends keeping a window or door open.
According to Singh, a safe Thanksgiving would include ten family members or less.
Singh said that at the current rate of infections, by Christmas there will be substantially more positive cases. He suspects the hospitalization rate will increase and predicted that preventative measures last seen in March and April may be reinstituted.
At Bayonne Medical Center, the hospitalization rate remains low. As of Nov. 19 there were 12 patients. That has increased from two or three patients two weeks ago, but Singh said that the number is nowhere near where it was in March and April.
An increase in cases has been correlated with holidays. Singh said the current uptick is a result of Halloween, and a small surge in the summer occurred after the 4th of July.
While the ongoing surge may worsen, Singh said that Bayonne Medical Center is not seeing patients as severely sick as they were during the first wave. Fewer patients require intubation on ventilators and do not require critical care.
Singh’s message is simple: get tested, wear masks, social distance, and stay home if sick.
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