Holiday wellness

holiday lightsWith the holiday season approaching, Cindy Prins, Ph.D., M.P.H., assistant dean for educational affairs, clinical associate professor of epidemiology and UF Health Screen, Test & Protect infection preventionist, offers these tips to keep faculty, staff and students and their loved ones safe:

At no out-of-pocket cost to you, COVID-19 testing is available through UF Health Screen, Test & Protect. You can request testing by visiting your ONE.UF account and completing the screening questionnaire. Please answer the questions accurately; you do not need to have symptoms or be a contact in order to get tested. You can get some more information on testing, including testing sites, dates, and times at UF Health Screen, Test & Protect. Please note that an appointment is required for testing. All testing through UF Health Screen, Test & Protect is now saliva-based testing (no more swab!).

The safest way to celebrate the holidays is with your immediate household members. However, if you plan to celebrate with family and friends from outside your household, please keep COVID-19 precautions in mind:

  1. Enjoy your celebration outdoors if possible. If that’s not possible, then open windows while inside to increase air circulation.
  2. Clean high touch surfaces in the house before guests arrive. This includes doorknobs, faucets, the fridge handle and the oven handle.
  3. Maintain physical distancing from non-household friends and family. This means staying at least 6 feet apart and avoiding being closer than 6 feet for more than 15 cumulative minutes.
  4. Wear masks whenever possible, including outdoors when you can’t maintain a 6 foot physical distance. Make a game of it; the person caught not wearing a mask when they should have it on has to do all the dishes.
  5. Try to maintain physical distancing while dining. This is the riskiest time since everyone is gathered together and won’t be wearing a mask. As soon as people are done eating, they should put their mask back on.
  6. If you can, try to follow quarantine precautions for two weeks (or as close as possible) before the holiday. This means being very mindful to stay six feet away from non-household members and not going anywhere that you won’t wear a mask (restaurant, bar, gym). This is especially important if you have high-risk family or friends.
  7. If you are concerned that you may have COVID-19, then get tested. Be aware that testing negative only means that you do not have detectable COVID-19 at the time of the test.

If you’re traveling for the holidays:

  1. Check the testing requirements for your destination and mode of travel.
  2. Maintain physical distancing in the airport.
  3. Wear a mask on the airplane and do not remove it. Drink from a straw that you slip under your mask if needed. Don’t eat on the plane.
  4. If you take a cab or Uber/Lyft, be sure that everyone is wearing a mask. Sit in the back and open the windows at least 1/3 of the way. Ask the driver to make sure that the air conditioning is not on recirculate.

Guidance for staying healthy during travel can be found at:

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Florida Department of Health
UF Health