Is it safe to visit Santa? New COVID-19 risk chart looks at 2020 holiday activities


Julianna, 3, and Dylan, 5, Lasczak visit with Santa through a transparent barrier at a Bass Pro Shop in Bridgeport, Conn., Tuesday, Nov. 10, 2020. Santa Claus is coming to the mall — just don’t try to sit on his lap. Malls are doing all they can to keep the jolly old man safe from the coronavirus, including banning kids from sitting on his knee, no matter if they’ve been naughty or nice. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — A large social gathering with singing or drinking is unsurprisingly considered the riskiest activity for the 2020 holiday season, according to a new risk assessment chart from the Texas Medical Association.

Physicians from the Texas Medical Association COVID-19 Task Force would like people to “know your risk this holiday season,” providing the risk level for coming into contact with COVID-19 during a variety of holiday activities.

The chart places attending a college house party, New Year’s Eve celebrations at bars/nightclubs and large indoor events with singing at a 10 on the scale. Just below those activities is attending a homecoming dance (9).

The 34 holiday activities rated from one (least risk) to 10 (riskiest) assume that people will wear a mask when practical, stay at least 6 feet away from people they do not live with, and wash their hands frequently.

Chart from Texas Medical Association

Looking at holiday lights with your immediate family in your car (1), shopping online (1) and making a letter to Santa (1) are considered low risk activities. A Thanksgiving dinner with family or household members (3) and traveling by car to visit family or friends (3) are considered low-to-moderate risks.

TMA considers in-person “Black Friday” shopping (8), taking photos with Santa (7) or caroling with a group (8) as moderate-to-high risk activities.

“Where there are less people or more ability to social or physically distance, that is going to be safer,” said Dr. Trish Perl, a TMA COVID-19 Task Force member and UT Southwestern Medical Center infectious disease specialist. “Think of other ways to connect, like Facetime, and include them in the celebration without physically being there. Remember, no hugs for grandma this year.”

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