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Health Experts Warn Against Large Holiday Gatherings To Prevent COVID-19 Surge

LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) -- As the holiday season approaches, local health experts are urging people to honor their traditions on a smaller and safer scale to help prevent a surge in COVID-19 cases.

"Unfortunately, it's almost like Halloween is canceled," said Pasadena resident Matthew Wickersham.

For the past 30 years, his neighborhood has held a Halloween parade for the trick-or-treaters. But, this year it will not be happening. He said trick-or-treating is out the window this year, and parents in his neighborhood are scrambling for a backup.

"It's a time for (the kids) to feel special and have fun and be a kid," he said. "And it looks like it's not going to happen this year."

Local health experts say they are even more worried about Thanksgiving and Christmas gatherings in the coming months, when family gatherings could easily turn into COVID-19 super spreader events.

"As the winter months come on, it's also flu season, not only COVID," said Dr. Stephen Dumontier, an emergency physician at Arrowhead Regional Medical Center.

He said hospitals don't want to see another post-holiday spike in cases like they did after the Fourth of July, but they know it is likely on the way.

"We're anticipating that there will be kind of a large spike," he said. Although, he added they are hoping that at this point in the pandemic people are still being careful to protect their families.

The CDC's holiday gathering guidelines recommend small groups from no more than three households. They say people should stay outdoors and gather for no more than two hours. Disposable containers should be used, and guests should practice social distancing.

"For Christmas, I'm going to have probably a small gathering at my house," said Pasadena resident Katherine Wolfe. "I have a nice yard where I think we can all get together and be safe."

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