Despite warnings to stay home, many planning small Christmas gatherings with family

Local News

ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO) — While medical experts have advised people to stay home for Christmas this year, many say the coronavirus won’t keep them away from family.

Alize Jones, who was out wrapping up some last-minute Christmas shopping on Wednesday, said, “For the most part, everybody in my family is not sick, so we’ll probably have a small gathering, you know, 4, 5 or 6 people, but nothing really big, because of the pandemic. But, as long as everybody’s tested negative for COVID, then it doesn’t matter. I want to have a great time with my family.”

Another shopper, Rilynn Grover, said, “I’m going to a one, small, little house, with my grandparents.”

Mila Reed said, “Instead of getting together with our whole extended family, we’re just getting together with our immediate family.”

Medical experts have advised against having family gatherings because of the COVID-19 pandemic, they say there are still ways to celebrate Christmas without being in the same room.

Luke Raymond, Behavioral Health Director at OSF St. Anthony, said “Maybe we can cook a family recipe together at the same time [over Zoom.] Maybe we can sing a Christmas carol, and if we have a teenager who’s gifted at splicing together videos, we can have a chorus of that same song that we all had, that gives us a sense of being together.”

Raymond says another idea is to postpone the holiday celebrations until sometime next year, after a COVID-19 vaccine is more widely available.

Dr. Ngozi Ezike, director of the Illinois Department of Public Health, said Wednesday that staying home this Christmas will save lives.

“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 you currently live with,” she said.

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