Hosting Guests this Summer
Here in Vermont, where most people are vaccinated, it is easy to forget that the COVID-19 pandemic is still raging elsewhere. Missing our friends and family might inspire us to invite them for dinner or a weekend. But cases are on the rise in many U.S. destinations, fueled by the increased transmissibility of the Delta variant. For this reason, there are a few important details to consider before hosting company from near or far.
Ask about your guests’ vaccination status. Among the first details you and your guests discuss, before the date and time of your visit, should be their vaccination status. Start by sharing that you are vaccinated and ask them if they are. While this can be an awkward conversation, it is worthwhile. Knowing can help you make plans for an outdoor gathering, rather than one indoors, for instance.
If everyone in the group is vaccinated, have fun. There are no restrictions necessary for groups of fully vaccinated people. This holds true regardless of where your guests are from or where they have traveled recently. If they are fully vaccinated, they could have spent time with unvaccinated people without increasing your risk. The vaccines are powerful. It is highly unlikely for a vaccinated person get COVID-19 and almost impossible for them to pass COVID-19 to another vaccinated person.
If one person is unvaccinated, take care. One unvaccinated person or family could safely join a fully vaccinated group, as long as they masked and kept their distance while indoors and either masked or distanced while outside. Note that those who are slow to vaccinate are sometimes also resistant to wearing masks.
Remember that no one under the age of 12 is vaccinated yet. Kids are people too. They should be treated just like unvaccinated adults. Note that keeping young kids from getting too close to others is very difficult. They are poor judges of distance and don’t understand why they should stay apart from others. For this reason, it’s best to keep meet-ups that include children and all unvaccinated people outside.
Ask unvaccinated guests where they have traveled lately. Unvaccinated people, including kids, should not travel to areas where the rate of COVID-19 illness is high. The Delta variant is capable of spreading even between people who have a very short casual interaction. It is now the dominant strain in the United States. I would recommend not meeting up with unvaccinated people who have traveled to states with low vaccination rates.
Make outdoor events weather dependent. It has been a rainy July. Unless you can see yourself hanging out on a porch or under umbrellas, make plans to postpone meet-ups with unvaccinated people if the weather is poor. Knowing that the event is weather dependent from the start can help you cancel an event if bad weather arrives.
These recommendations are all about improving communication between us and our guests. When we share our expectations, we make it easier to follow through on the actions that will keep us, our families, and our other guests safe.
Donna Barron, RN, is the infection preventionist at Southwestern Vermont Medical Center in Bennington.