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Stay Home For Christmas, New Year’s To Reduce Coronavirus Spread, State’s Leaders Plead

"The best way to avoid another surge in hospitalizations, another surge in deaths, another surge in new infections is to celebrate the holidays at home with the family that you currently live with."

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CHICAGO — People should stay home for Christmas and New Year’s Eve — or at least take coronavirus safety precautions if they do visit family and friends, the state’s officials warned Wednesday.

Gov. JB Pritzker and Dr. Ngozi Ezike, head of the Illinois Department of Public Health, have repeatedly advised everyone to stay home and only celebrate the winter holidays with members of their household. They echoed that warning Wednesday, with officials noting COVID-19 hospitalizations have crept back up in recent days and they’re worried about a post-holiday surge.

“The best way to avoid another surge in hospitalizations, another surge in deaths, another surge in new infections is to celebrate the holidays at home with the family that you currently live with,” Ezike said during the news conference. “And I know it sounds crazy to ask that yet again, and I know that some of you will and I know that some of you won’t or can’t.”

The best way to prevent getting sick — or to prevent transmitting the virus to your loved ones — is to stay home and practice social distancing, experts have advised. People should also keep wearing masks, washing their hands and taking other safety measures.

Ezike’s previously suggested people celebrate over video and phone calls and find ways to keep up traditions in a socially distant way, like delivering presents to a loved one’s home but not opening them together.

Officials have also warned a negative test won’t protect someone from catching or spreading COVID-19. Someone could get a false negative and, thinking they’re safe, meet with family, only to transmit the virus to them, officials have warned. Or someone could become infected after getting the test and then pass the virus on to people they see.

People who still opt to gather should at least take safety precautions, like wearing a mask around people outside their household, experts have cautioned.

“For those of you [who will gather,] I ask for you to think of additional safety measures that you can employ as you travel, as you gather, that can make the visits somewhat safer than the safest option,” Ezike said.

“For those that are staying home, I know you have to reflect on this tough year; all of us are reflecting on this tough year and are thinking of our loved ones. But we will make plans for next year and we will hope for many of the people who are here with us” to still be there next year.

RELATED: Holidays During Coronavirus: Here Are The State’s Tips For Making Hosting, Traveling And More Safe

Pritzker said he is wary of a possible post-holiday surge. Earlier this month, he warned the holidays could turn into the “deadliest time of the pandemic” if people visit their family and friends.

Chicago saw a small bump in cases and its positivity rate after Thanksgiving, though that’s since fallen. Illinois escaped a post-Thanksgiving surge, though other places around the nation are being hit hard.

But hospitalizations have risen throughout Illinois during the past few days, worrying Pritzker, especially as the holidays near.

“As we head into … the Christmas holiday and New Year’s, my concern is that we might, we are … likely to see some uptick from Christmas and from New Year’s in hospitalizations, as well as cases. So I’m concerned about that,” he said.

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