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3 ways to minimize COVID-19 risk if you're planning a holiday gathering

Allina Health infectious disease specialist Dr. Frank Rhame says decisions will be different for each family.

COVID-19 case numbers are rising just as the holidays are approaching, leading many families to rethink their traditional celebrations.

Allina Health infectious disease and internal medicine specialist Dr. Frank Rhame says COVID-19 risk will increase with any family gatherings. Dr. Rhame says there may be ways to minimize the risk, but those decisions will be different for each family, based on their "risk tolerance."

Beginning Friday, Nov. 13 at 10 p.m., Gov. Tim Walz enacted new restrictions on private social gatherings in Minnesota, limiting them to 10 people and three families at maximum.

Dr. Rhame offered these three suggestions for minimizing risk over the holidays:

1. Large spaces, social distancing

"When gathering, families should seek out the largest spaces possible," Dr. Rhame said. "Wear masks when possible and, when eating, keep a safe social distance, versus sitting around a tightly packed, traditional communal table."

2. Consider testing

"Families with college students should take special precautions, including testing before they depart from college, if that option is available," he suggested.

3. Have a clear plan

"Before your gathering, have an upfront conversation about what you are and aren’t going to do in the weeks leading up to the visit," Dr. Rhame suggested. "Then agree on your plans for the visit beforehand, so everyone is on the same page."