Nov 13, 2020 3:38 PM

Hammersmith: Families need to be intentional about holiday gatherings

Posted Nov 13, 2020 3:38 PM

By NICK GOSNELL

Hutch Post

HUTCHINSON, Kan. — Whether or not the Board of County Commissioners chooses to make a policy change regarding gathering size shouldn't make a difference in how residents look at the upcoming holidays.

"Keep your gatherings to less than ten people," said Interim Health Officer Karen Hammersmith. "If that means celebrating in very small areas, that's what we need to do."

Hammersmith has talked to her own family about it.

"My mother's 76 years old," Hammersmith said. "She does not need to be around four different households, coming from different areas, kids from colleges coming home. We need to protect her. We've got a newborn baby in the family. We need to protect that baby. These are the types of things I know that families are already thinking about, but we need to be intentional of how we decide to do those things."

Even though the point of holiday gatherings is spending extended time together, realize the risk you are choosing to take.

"You're all sitting in the living room area, or even if you have a community room, you know, you're intermingling that entire time," Hammersmith said. "That's just not safe this year. Everybody is a host, so until we get that vaccine, we're not going to be able to slow the spread. You really need to be intentionally think about it, whether we have a mandate in place or not."

As of Friday morning, there were 596 known active cases in Reno County. The county had 2,279 cases overall on Halloween and 3,166 cases as of November 12, which means 28% of the people who have contracted the virus and tested positive in Reno County since the beginning of the pandemic have received their result in the last two weeks.