By Jessica Mathews /

The holiday season will be different for Livingston County residents and others across the state this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Thus, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) has issued guidance on how to travel and gather safely during the holidays to ensure families don’t miss out on being together.

The Livingston County Health Department reported Friday that local COVID-19 cases have dramatically increased over the last two weeks - a trend that is mirrored both statewide and nationally. The increases are said to likely be tied to community transmission and small group gatherings among adults.

MDHHS Chief Medical Executive Dr. Joneigh Khaldun said celebrating the holiday season with family and friends are among the most cherished traditions for many. She said even though the way people celebrate may have to be different, the guidance issued shows there are still many ways to spend quality time with family and friends safely during this festive season.

During a recent press conference, Khaldun commented that these are challenging times but the virus is still very active and spreading. Khaldun said everyone has what it takes to control the virus. She says people need to be sure to wear a mask every time someone is within six feet of someone who doesn’t live in the same household – stressing that means the homes of family and friends, every time. Khaldun advised to avoid gathering as much as possible, saying the smaller the better and being held outside is better than inside. If a gathering must be held, people are reminded to maintain six-feet of distancing with others.

Khaldun added that just because something is permitted, doesn’t mean it’s a good idea. She suggests limiting indoor dining with anyone who doesn’t live in the same household. Those that choose to dine indoors are advised to keep a mask on at all times - except when physically putting food in your mouth. Khaldun says people also need to limit talking without a mask as it increases the risk of spread.
She suggests people strongly consider getting take out versus dining in a restaurant and also strongly consider renting a movie at home instead of going to a theater.

The guidance issued by the MDHHS and various safety measures related to traveling during the holiday season can be found in the attached press release.