Family gatherings in the age of COVID-19 may seem like a safer alternative to restaurants and bars, health experts are still advising against them.
COVID-19 related cases are hitting closer and closer to home. A shocking 71 percent of COVID-19 patients in San Bernardino County, California, between mid-June to mid-July said they were at a family event two weeks prior to their diagnosis, ABC7 reported.
Up to 228 people out of 319 interviewed by contact tracers, investigators who determine the source of an infection and how it might have spread from one person, said they attended a large gathering, according to the county’s Department of Health. The San Bernardino case study is reflective of a potential national problem of exposing loved ones to the coronavirus as cases spike throughout the country.
Nearly half (44%) of new COVID-19 cases in the state of Maryland were traced back to family gatherings compared to 23% from house parties and 21% form events held outdoors, Larry Hogan, the state's governor, tweeted last week. And at least 41 cases in North Carolina were traced to large family gatherings, according to The Charlotte Observer.
Families may be desperate to reunite after having been separated for months, but health officials are urging against gathering because it can potentially spread the virus asymptomatically to older, more vulnerable relatives.
"We are still in a global pandemic," Dr. Matt Heinz, a hospital physician and internist based in Tucson, Arizona told FOX News Thursday. "We do not have cured therapy and we do not have a vaccine so the risk has not changed. Whoever you're with --whether it's family; whether its a group of friends -- there should be strict enforcement of social distancing, masks at all times and work to avoid indoors."
Heinz added that he recently treated a patient who contracted COVID-19 after attending a family reunion of about 60 people in Colorado.
"The one person in the room of 15 to 20 people, even with a mask on, can potentially pose a risk especially coming into an environment where air conditioning is circulating in an enclosed space," Heinz said.." We’re not out of the woods."