Public Health urges safer holiday gatherings as COVID-19 cases surge

Published Date

Clark County Public Health is urging everyone to take steps to reduce their risk of catching and spreading COVID-19 this holiday season.

COVID-19 case numbers are increasing at an alarming rate in Clark County. Eight weeks ago, Clark County averaged 28 cases per day. Four weeks ago, we averaged 42 cases per day.

In the last week, we’ve averaged 116 cases per day, and this week our COVID-19 activity rate increased to more than 171 cases per 100,000 residents.

Public Health data shows that case numbers are increasing across age groups and demographics, with those 20 to 49 years old consistently having the highest numbers of new confirmed cases. Public Health data also continues to show that small private gatherings are a leading source of COVID-19 exposure in Clark County.

Holiday gatherings could potentially drive local case numbers even higher.

“The safest way to celebrate the holidays this year is at home with the people you live with,” said Dr. Alan Melnick, Clark County health officer and Public Health director. “Attending indoor gatherings with people from outside of your household puts you and your loved ones at higher risk of getting sick with COVID-19.”

Rather than gathering with others in person, invite friends and family members to join a virtual holiday meal or prepare a favorite holiday recipe and deliver it to loved ones in a way that avoids contact with others. Host holiday activities such as cookie decorating and gift exchanges virtually, and consider shopping for holiday gifts online or using curbside pickup, rather than visiting crowded stores.

Those who plan to host or attend in-person gatherings with people they don’t live with should take steps to reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19.

  • Keep the guest list small. Gathering with fewer people from one other household is safer than gathering with more people from several households.
  • Gather outside, if possible. Indoor gatherings are higher risk than outdoor gatherings.
  • If you gather indoors, open windows and doors to increase ventilation. Gather in a location that allows people from different households to maintain 6 feet of distance from each other.
  • Wear face coverings anytime you’re not eating.
  • Keep the gathering short. Longer gatherings are higher risk than shorter gatherings.
  • Wash hands frequently.
  • Avoid buffet-style potlucks and sharing of utensils. Instead, have each household bring their own food and drinks.
  • Avoid gestures that require close contact with others, such as hugging or shaking hands.
  • Consider pre-event quarantine. Ask all guests to limit their contact with others for the 14 days prior to the gathering.
  • After the gathering, stay home as much as possible for 14 days. If you develop symptoms of COVID-19, contact your health care provider to request testing.

You should not attend in-person gatherings if:

  • You have tested positive for COVID-19 and have not completed isolation
  • You are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 or are awaiting results from a COVID-19 test
  • You have been in close contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19 and have not completed your 14-day quarantine.

Those who are at increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19 or who live with someone at increased risk should consider skipping in-person gatherings. Those at risk for severe illness include older adults and people with underlying health conditions, such as COPD, cancer, heart conditions and those who are immunocompromised.

For more information about COVID-19 and additional holiday gathering tips, visit the Public Health website.



Marissa Armstrong
senior communications specialist
Public Health