'Twas a Holiday Season Like No Other...
With 2020 on its way out, the winter holidays are in sight. Though they may not look the same as years past, they can still feel just as festive and meaningful! As COVID-19 cases rise nationwide, including within our District, the safest way to celebrate this year is with members of your own household. Minimize your risk of COVID-19 infection during the holidays by avoiding traveling, continuing to wear your mask when near others (indoors or outdoors), and stay home without outside contact (quarantine) for a full 14 days if you have been in contact with someone who tests positive. Read on for more holiday safety tips and upcoming testing opportunities...
Make Like an Elf: Keep It Small
Coronavirus easily spreads indoors where ventilation and humidity are absent and people are physically closer together. That's why it's safest to avoid mixing groups: gather with your own household for the holidays instead of inviting in new, potentially exposed, guests. If you must gather, follow these safety measures to reduce your risk of transmission:

  • Gather outside (six feet a part) in groups fewer than 10 people.

  • If you do head indoors, open windows and turn on a gentle fan (remember: ventilation helps).

  • Remind guests to keep their masks on and stay as distanced as possible.
  • Encourage frequent hand washing and have hand sanitizer readily available.
Holiday Travel: Know Your Travel Risk
Of course, staying home is the safest way to protect yourself, family, and friends from the virus this year. If you must travel for the holidays, be prepared and know your level of travel risk. Travel with hand sanitizer and extra masks, and remember that you're at most risk the longer you're within 6 feet of others. Last and most importantly, remember to quarantine and monitor for symptoms for the full 14 days when you return home.
LOWEST RISK: Short trips by car with household members and with no stops along the way.
MORE RISK: Longer trips by car or RV with one or more stops along the way.
HIGH RISK: Trips by car or RV with people who are not in your household; Long-distance train or bus trips; Direct flights.
HIGHEST RISK: Flights with layovers.
COVID Pods and "Bubbles"
With the days getting darker and colder, sluggishness and solitude increase. This is normal behavior – the hunkering down of winter. But after 9 months of separation from family and social networks due to COVID-19, many are seeking relief in the form of social "pods" or "bubbles". Bubble members agree to limit contact to just those within the group, with exceptions for outings for groceries or necessities. These small, closed networks are meant to broaden the social sphere without spreading the virus. Because there aren't standard health guidelines for establishing or sustaining bubbles, there can be a lot of room for interpretation and risk. Before agreeing to create or join a bubble - particularly those intended to allow kids to socialize on winter break - make sure rules are clearly agreed upon (and even better, in writing) and prioritize COVID safe practices over socializing.
COVID-19 Testing in December
Remember that while testing is important, the best way to prevent the spread of COVID-19 is to avoid traveling and mixing households. By continuing to wear face masks, maintaining physical distance, and washing hands routinely, the spread of infection will continue to decline. If, however, you should need testing for any reason, those options will continue to be available throughout the holiday season.

For an updated list of free drive-thru COIVID-19 testing events, visit the BRHD website.

This weekend, UVA, BRHD, and the US Department of Health and Human Services are hosting two FREE drive-thru testing events in Albemarle County. Up to 2,000 testing slots are available, but pre-registration is required. Testing is available for anyone 13 years and older in a vehicle; no walk-up testing will be offered. All testing is through self-administered nasal swabs. Results will not be given over the phone or in person, but will be available in 24-48 hours via the online results portal, so remember your password when you register!
SATURDAY, December 5, 12:00-4:00pm
  • Albemarle High School (Back Parking Lot), 2775 Hydraulic Road, Charlottesville, VA 22901
  • Pre-registration is required. Register at doineedacovid19test.com
SUNDAY December 6, 12:00-4:00pm
  • Albemarle High School (Back Parking Lot), 2775 Hydraulic Road, Charlottesville, VA 22901
  • Pre-registration is required. Register at doineedacovid19test.com