September 26, 2023

If you’re unvaccinated, you should avoid traveling for the holidays and wear a mask if you attend any indoor Thanksgiving or Halloween parties, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends in its new COVID-19 guidelines.

Everyone, whether you are vaccinated or not, should consider skipping indoor holiday events in favor of outdoor or virtual gatherings, according to the updated CDC advice issued Friday.

“Attending gatherings to celebrate events and holidays increases your risk of getting and spreading COVID-19. The safest way to celebrate is virtually, with people who live with you, or outside and at least 6 feet apart from others,” the guidelines say.

If you are hosting an indoor party, the CDC recommends opening windows and getting a fan.

“If celebrating indoors, bring in fresh air by opening windows and doors, if possible. You can use a window fan in one of the open windows to blow air out of the window. This will pull fresh air in through the other open windows,” the guidelines say.

The new CDC advice comes as the U.S. is preparing to enter its second holiday season of the coronavirus pandemic. Americans are once again facing tough decisions on whether to host, or accept invitations to, traditional Halloween parties and Thanksgiving gatherings with family and friends.

Though about 56% of the total U.S. population is vaccinated, COVID-19 cases continue to rise nationwide. Children under age 12 are still not eligible for the vaccine.

In New Jersey, more than 5.8 million people who live, work or study in the state have been fully vaccinated, state officials say. However, all of New Jersey’s counties, with the exception of Mercer and Hudson, continue have “high” rates of coronavirus transmission as the Delta variant of the virus spreads, according to the CDC’s data tracker.

Anyone who is not vaccinated, including children over age 2, should wear a mask for indoor gatherings, the CDC guidelines say.

Those attending a holiday gathering should have frank discussions about COVID-19 safety with the hosts before accepting an invitation, the CDC advice says.

“Have conversations ahead of time to understand expectations for celebrating together,” the guidelines say.

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