By Jessica Mathews /

The Livingston County Health Department has issued guidance for holiday travel and gatherings amid the pandemic.

As Michigan experiences a fall surge in COVID-19 cases, Livingston County is also seeing a marked increase in local cases. Officials say continued, widespread community transmission has placed tremendous strain on public health capacity throughout Michigan. Indoor gatherings pose a serious risk to increasing COVID-19 cases, as people are confined in smaller spaces and less able to physically distance.

While many people begin to plan for fall and winter holiday celebrations, the Livingston County Health Department is reminding residents about some considerations to help protect individuals and their families, friends, and communities from COVID-19.

The Department says traveling and in-person gatherings greatly increase the chances of getting and spreading COVID-19. Officials say staying home is the best way to protect yourself and others. For those that decide to travel for the holidays, the department is stressing various safety measures such as wearing a mask, avoiding close contact by staying at least 6 feet apart from anyone who is not from your household, and washing hands often.

It’s suggested that people consider hosting virtual festivities instead of in-person holiday gatherings. If an in-person gathering is hosted, officials say it should be held outdoors if possible. Although the holidays will look different this year, the Health Department says there is still hope. Officials say people worked together to slow the spread of COVID-19 in the past and it can be done again, noting there will be a time when everyone can safely gather again.

Additional information and guidance can be found in the attache press release.