Health Experts Urge Caution During Labor Day Weekend
Cedars-Sinai Physicians Remind Los Angeles Residents to Remain Vigilant, Avoid Large Gatherings
An increase in travel and social gatherings over the Labor Day weekend could lead to a spike in COVID-19 cases, mirroring similar increases after other recent national holidays, Cedars-Sinai experts warn.
Andrew Chuang, MD, an internal medicine physician in the Cedars-Sinai Medical Network in Marina del Rey, is urging patients and members of the community to use caution when celebrating this holiday weekend.
"Stick to those principles we've been practicing all summer," Chuang said. "Maintain physical distancing and limit contact with people outside your own household. Wash your hands often, or use sanitizer when hand-washing is not possible. Wear a mask and, of course, if you're feeling sick, stay home."
Chuang said that people should be especially vigilant when removing their masks to eat, even in outdoor settings.
Maintain physical distancing and limit contact with people outside your own household. Wash your hands often, or use sanitizer when hand-washing is not possible. Wear a mask and, of course, if you're feeling sick, stay home.
"Remember when we are eating, we are unmasked, not because it’s inherently safer when we eat but simply because you can't eat or drink with a mask covering your mouth," Chuang said. "That means you should be even more careful. If you are eating with others, sit with members of your own household and farther away from those not in your household. I know that takes away some of the social interaction we crave, but try to remember that this situation is temporary. The pandemic won't last forever."
Michael Ben-Aderet, MD, associate medical director of Hospital Epidemiology at Cedars-Sinai, said that while it's impossible to draw a direct connection between holidays and increased spreading of the coronavirus, the summer's Memorial Day and July Fourth weekends likely contributed to an increase in cases in Los Angeles County.
"There was a relaxing of a lot of the stay-at-home orders around that same time," Ben-Aderet said. "There was a period of time when indoor dining was open again, gyms were open again. Those are the highest-risk settings — indoor gatherings of unmasked people. But I think it's highly likely that those holidays also contributed to an increase in travel and an increase in gatherings that led to the increase in cases."
Ben-Aderet recommends avoiding those high-risk indoor settings and opting for lower-risk outdoor celebrations with a limited number of people, preferably from the same household.
"While there's no such thing as a risk-free setting, there are ways that people can recreate safely," Ben-Aderet said. "It doesn't have to be a joyless holiday. You can still go to the beach, you can still go to the parks, you can still go hiking, as long as you're just a little bit more careful than you normally are. Avoid big groups of strangers, wear masks and keep physical distance between people."
Read more on the Cedars-Sinai blog: Is It Safe to Travel During the COVID-19 Pandemic?