We have arrived at the time of year that gathering with loved ones is most important, but this year, it’s also the most important time to observe social distancing measures. Of any year, now is certainly when we’re all on the same page about wanting social interaction - so we face a curious problem.

COVID cases across the country have steadily risen for the past few months, and Wisconsin has been hit especially hard. According to Public Health Madison & Dane County’s order, at a gathering of 10 people in Dane County, there is a 32% chance that at least one person with COVID-19 is present. The risk is even higher in surrounding counties.

To mitigate this risk and keep you and your loved ones safe, virtual gatherings and enjoying the company of those already in your household are the recommended practices this holiday season.

If you’d like to host a virtual gathering that feels more like real life (small group conversations, moving group to group) consider setting up a gathering on https://gather.town/. This awesome new tool allows participants to move a character around a virtual room. As your character approaches others in the virtual space, you will see their video pop up, and as you get even closer, you’ll be able to hear them as well. Zoom is great, but the ability to have side conversations is missing!

If you are planning to gather in person with individuals outside your immediate household, there are certain measures you can take. If members of separate households gather indoors, individuals are expected to wear masks and practice physical distancing according to Dane County guidelines. If you’re aiming to share a meal, consider doing so outdoors with proper distancing and avoid sharing food. We’ll have to hope for nice weather! It’s certainly something to get excited about if you have the chance to safely see loved ones, but keep in mind how suddenly circumstances may change.

The Madison Senior Center wishes you and your family a safe and joyous holiday season!

For more detailed information on gathering guidelines, visit https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/daily-life-coping/holidays.html.

By Ellen Vaillant

This content is free for use with credit to the City of Madison - Madison Senior Center and a link back to the original post.