Graphic by Amanda Huang

Samantha Katovich, Staff Writer

With the holidays rapidly approaching, many Americans are forced to change their annual plans because of the Coronavirus. The anniversary of the first COVID-19 case falls around the same time as the holiday season, being first identified as a threat back in December of 2019 in Wuhan, China. This becomes obvious when you compare this year’s holiday festivities to last year. Instead of joyous celebrations, parties, and overall cheer, this holiday season represents a time of depression for those impacted by the virus.

The United States has seen over 290,000 deaths and 6.6 million cases in the past year because of the Coronavirus. Each of these numbers represents a brother, sister, mother, father, friend, or acquaintance, and this holiday season will mark the first celebration without them for many families. Despite this, there are still many ways for Americans to celebrate the holiday season while following safe COVID requirements.

One way many Americans are celebrating the holidays this year is to travel to see their relatives earlier than the actual holiday to celebrate safely. This smart plan allows many families to reconnect with each other while simultaneously staying healthy. The CDC recently changed their guidelines to say that quarantine should only be 10-14 days, so if someone were to quarantine themselves for 10 days before seeing their family, then that would ensure safety during the celebration. Of course, there are still mishaps and flaws, so it is not guaranteed that the person won’t spread COVID-19, but it is a safer way to maintain a healthy distance from the virus.

Additionally, despite many misconceptions, traveling on a plane is not nearly as dangerous as one might think. Because people are facing forward and not towards each other, it is less likely for someone to spread their germs while flying. Also, according to MIT Medical, “ air quality on a commercial airliner is quite high, with the air volume in the cabin being completely refreshed every two to four minutes.”

This means that the airflow is constantly changing so the germs are almost immediately taken away from the atmosphere and the air is changed to cleaner air.  Many airlines are also taking more precautions to allow their passengers to feel comfortable, like limiting the number of people occupying the plane and removing the middle seat to allow more space. Additionally, most passengers are forced to wear masks while at the airport and inside of the plan in order to keep others safe.

The surge of coronavirus cases has also caused many churches and temples to shut down. However, this holiday season, many churches are still showing online services so that people can still pray and hear a sermon if wanted. This allows the feeling of Christmas to remain for many, seeing as though going to church is a necessity for their holiday season. It also allows for social distancing and fewer safety concerns because of how easily churches can become breeding grounds for disease.

To allow their customers to purchase holiday presents, many stores are also providing more online shopping options. Malls are a large hotspot for the virus because of how many people can occupy them at once. Online shopping reduces the threat of germs being spread, while simultaneously buying gifts for the family.

The holiday season this year is occurring during an unprecedented time. The entire country has had to change its plans to remain safe and keep themselves healthy. Despite this, there are still many ways to celebrate the holiday season. They might not be traditional or what is expected, but the holidays will still go on no matter what.