Consider the risks of family gatherings this Christmas

We urge area residents thinking of going over the river and through the woods to grandma’s house this Christmas to bear one thing in mind: We are not out of the woods yet.

In many ways, COVID-19 is more dangerous than ever in most states.

Public health officials cautioned us all about large family gatherings for Thanksgiving. The surge of COVID-19 cases since then is evidence many people paid no heed to the warnings. They went ahead with festivities of the type enjoyed for years — and the deadly virus was communicated to many members of their families. More than 50,000 Americans have died of the disease just since Thanksgiving.

What many people consider to be an even more important family holiday is approaching. What will we do for Christmas? Will we heed the warnings, made even more persuasive by what happened after Thanksgiving?

Or will we go ahead and get together with loved ones — perhaps vulnerable older people away from whom we have stayed for months — to exchange gifts and enjoy delicious Christmas dinners? Will we go over the hill and through the woods, or by some other route, to grandma’s house?

There is no one-size-fits-all answer, of course. Circumstances vary enormously from family to family. For some, with no older people planning to be present, the danger may fall into the calculated risk category. For others, with grandmothers and grandfathers in their 80s or older and in ill health, the hazard may be enormous.

Whatever ages and medical conditions are involved, we know there is some danger. A significant percentage of the COVID-19 deaths in both our states have been of people younger than 60 years.

What you do for Christmas has to be your decision. We urge you to make it thoughtfully, realistically and with long-term compassion. Make it a merry Christmas — and a happy new year, too.


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