Medical City Healthcare - November 24, 2020

Many North Texans look forward to their favorite holiday activities all year. But now, we have to weigh the risks of getting or spreading COVID-19 as we plan our seasonal events. Often, our get-togethers include older family members or those with chronic health conditions, making it even harder to know what to do. To help you make an informed decision, the Texas Medical Association compiled a handy winter holiday risk chart. Read on to find out how this group of Texas physicians rank coronavirus risk for a variety of winter activities, including traveling to visit relatives, taking photos with Santa, decorating a gingerbread house, attending a Super Bowl party and more.

Additionally, here are helpful links to Dallas County Health and Human Services information, including how to interact with a high-risk person and a handy daily risk level meter.

Know your holiday risk during COVID-19

To help you assess the risks for contracting (or spreading) COVID-19 by activity, the Texas Medical Association’s COVID-19 Task Force and Committee on Infectious Diseases ranked activities from 1 (low risk to 10 (high risk) in its winter risk assessment chart. The levels are based on input from the physician members of the task force and the committee, who worked from the assumption that participants in these activities are following the CDC’s currently recommended safety protocols when possible, including social distancing, mask wearing and frequent handwashing.

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Risks for common winter holiday activities

Low risk:

  • Level 1
    • Shopping for gifts online
    • Doing a virtual turkey trot or holiday run
    • Watching holiday movies at home with your household
    • Viewing holiday lights with your family in your car
    • Building a snowman with your household
    • Mailing a letter to Santa
    • Donating canned food

Low-moderate risk:

  • Level 2
    • Joining a physically distanced outdoor scavenger hunt
  • Level 3
    • Having Thanksgiving dinner with family or household members
    • Traveling by car to visit family or friends
  • Level 4
    • Doing an in-person turkey trot or holiday run (outdoors)
    • Decorating a gingerbread house with another household
    • Attending an outdoor public tree lighting ceremony
    • Ice skating at an outdoor rink

Moderate risk:

  • Level 5
    • Attending an outdoor sports event
    • Going on a hayride
    • Attending an outdoor cultural or religious celebration
    • Traveling by plane to visit family or friends
  • Level 6
    • Attending a holiday parade
    • Ice skating at a public rink indoors
    • Watching a public fireworks display
    • Visiting someone in assisted living

Moderate-high risk:

  • Level 7
    • Taking photos with Santa
    • Attending an indoor holiday craft fair or market
  • Level 8
    • Attending an indoor sports event
    • Attending a Super Bowl party
    • Shopping in-person on Black Friday
    • Caroling with a group
    • Hosting a holiday party with friends and family
    • Attending an indoor cultural or religious event

High risk:

  • Level 9
    • Attending a homecoming dance
  • Level 10
    • Attending a college house party
    • Attending a large indoor celebration with singing
    • Celebrating New Year’s Eve at a bar or nightclub

Example activities ranked by physicians from the TMA COVID-19 Task Force and the TMA Committee on Infectious Diseases.

Please assume participants in these activities are following currently recommended safety protocols, including social distancing, mask wearing, and washing hands frequently. The more people, the closer together, the fewer the masks, the more mingling indoors, the longer the time, the more singing and voice projection, and the more alcohol - the greater the risk.

Texas Medical Association - 401 W. 15th St., Austin, TX 78701-1680. TexMed.org, @texmed on Twitter, @wearetma on Instagram

This chart provides general information regarding exposure risks related to certain activities. It does not constitute medical advice and does not substitute for the advice of your physician. Consulting your personal physician is recommended when assessing your risks taking into consideration your medical condition.

Of course, when people don’t wear masks or take other preventive precautions, their risk of spreading or contracting COVID-19 during any of these activities goes up. So, use this chart as a guide and remember that it’s always better to be safe than sorry.

For more information about COVID-19 and the steps we’re taking to keep North Texans healthy, visit our Coronavirus Resource Hub.

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