Continue social distancing, hand washing, and wearing masks.
With the approach of Thanksgiving and the holiday season, Flagler County officials are reminding residents and businesses to follow COVID-19 safety protocols – practice social distancing, wear a mask when you cannot, and wash your hands frequently for at least 30 seconds.
“Everyone knows holidays are traditionally a time for friends and families to reconnect and get together, but this year will be a little different,” said Emergency Management Director Jonathan Lord. “Currently the spread of COVID-19 is accelerating, and a vaccine for the general public is still months away. We are asking everyone to take appropriate precautions to protect your friends and family from this disease.”
Flagler County encourages residents and businesses to become familiar with the latest Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) holiday guidelines and warnings, which includes understanding the following:
- Travelers can be exposed to the virus in the air and on surfaces.
- Indoor gatherings pose a greater risk than outdoor gatherings.
- Being within 6 feet of someone who has COVID-19 for 15 minutes, or more, greatly increases the risk of becoming sick.
- Large gatherings pose a greater risk than small ones.
- At gatherings – or anywhere outside of the home – attendees from different households should stay at least 6 feet apart regardless of the size of the gathering.
- Those who do not consistently social distance, wash hands, and wear masks pose a greater risk to others.
For more information, please see the CDC's holiday gatherings recommendations.
The restrictions echoed other experts' advice. The following was reported by the News Service of Florida:
As Florida and the rest of the country see a spike in COVID-19 cases, calls to stay put during the holidays to help prevent the spread of the virus continue to increase.
The American Hospital Association, the American Nurses Association and the American Medical Association issued a letter Thursday noting that the surge is affecting already-overburdened health systems and ultimately will “consume capacity” and could reduce the availability of care in some areas.
“In the strongest possible terms, we urge you to celebrate responsibly,” the letter said. “We are all weary and empathize with the desire to celebrate the holidays with family and friends, but given the serious risks, we underscore how important it is to wear masks, maintain physical distancing and wash your hands. Following these science-based, common-sense measures is the best way to prevent our health care systems and dedicated health care professionals from being overwhelmed by critically ill patients. We must protect the doctors, nurses and other caregivers who have tirelessly battled this virus for months. You can do your part to ensure they can continue to care for you and your loved ones.”
The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Thursday updated its holiday guidelines to try to dissuade people from traveling, noting that more than 1 million COVID-19 cases were reported in the country over the past seven days.
“As cases continue to increase rapidly across the United States, the safest way to celebrate Thanksgiving is to celebrate at home with the people you live with,” the CDC said. “Gatherings with family and friends who do not live with you can increase the chances of getting or spreading COVID-19 or the flu.”
Meanwhile the Florida Department of Health issued holiday guidelines Thursday but did not discourage travel. Instead, the department’s guidelines recommended that people who have traveled from other areas “distance themselves from people who are 65 or older and people of any age who have underlying health issues such as lung or heart disease.”
The guidelines recommend that sick people don’t travel and that people who travel by plane wear masks and social distance as much as possible. The guidelines also included fire and injury prevention tips and encouraged healthy habits, including exercise for adults and children and tips on healthy eating.