11/13/20 Reed column Life care planning: Planning COVID-safe holidays

By Sandra W. Reed
Sandra Reed

Thomas, 72, and Anne, 69 are confused over the information they are hearing on cable TV and social media about whether to have the family gather at Thanksgiving due to the COVID-19 pandemic. They are desperate to be with their children and grandchildren, whom they haven’t seen since March.

Anne’s best friend says there is no way she and her family are getting together for Thanksgiving dinner this year. She insists doing so would be playing Russian roulette. They aren’t going to get together for Christmas, either. Thomas’ business partner thinks the idea that family members shouldn’t celebrate the holidays together is beyond ridiculous. He says the fears of contracting COVID from the family circle have been overblown. What should Thomas and Anne do to keep themselves and their family members safe?

What information is trustworthy?

The opinion of politicians and political pundits should be irrelevant in making the decision whether to gather for the holidays. Listen to the medical professionals, scientists, the infectious disease experts. They are the sources of valid and reliable advice concerning how to behave responsibly and safely to avoid infection from COVID.

Thomas and Anne can consult the Center for Disease Control (CDC) guidelines for coping with the virus, which can be found at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/daily-life-coping/holidays.html. Here are a few of the CDC recommendations:

• Host only outdoor activities;

• Limit indoor activities to uncrowded, well-ventilated spaces that aren’t fully enclosed;

• Open windows and doors;

• Limit attendance to those in local area;

• Limit number of attendees;

• Provide masks;

• Make available and use 60% alcohol sanitizer and tissues; and

• Ask guests to avoid contact outside family for 14 days prior to attending event.

A cautionary tale

Realize there is a risk in getting together even with family and taking what seem to be reasonable precautions. Let me share a personal experience. My nephew planned a wedding designed to be COVID-safe, with family only at the ceremony, a few others added at the rehearsal and reception dinners, but no more than 30 attendees. The facility for the rehearsal and reception was a barnlike structure with 20-foot ceilings and one side open to the outdoors. The food was all prepared there by the bride’s father with no outside caterers or assistants serving.

Everyone was to wear masks except when eating and drinking. Unfortunately, the godmother, unbeknownst to her when attending, had been exposed a few days before and tested positive two days after the wedding. Consequently, the bride’s father and another guest both contracted COVID, the bride and groom and all the guests had to quarantined for 14 days.

Sandra W. Reed practices Elder Law in Somervell County, handling probating of estates, drafting of wills, trusts, powers of attorney and deeds as well as estate and Medicaid planning.  She lives in beautiful Chalk Mountain and can be reached at 254.797.0211; 817.946.2809 or at sreed@kattenbenson.com.