Health experts: Start planning, isolating for Christmas gatherings now

Anyone who decides to go to a Christmas gathering should start isolating and get tested in the coming days. (FOX 9)

Christmas is just one week away, and experts say now is the time to decide what exactly you plan to do.

With Christmas right around the corner, many Minnesotans are putting the finishing touches on their holiday plans.

That includes making final decisions about whether to get together with family and friends.

"It will just be the two of us this year - my housemate and myself," said Mary Bernhardt in Minneapolis. "Normally, I get together with family, but we are not going to this year."

"We are planning on getting together with people but with just one other family," said Janelle Voyakin. "Very small, but we don't have family around which makes it easier in some regards and harder in others."

Even though local health care workers have begun to get vaccinated and the number of cases and hospitalizations have started to decline from their highs in late November and early December, state health officials say Minnesota is not out of the woods yet.

They say if you have had COVID-19, you shouldn't be at risk of transmitting it to anyone for 90 days after you've recovered from the disease. But even if you have antibodies or received the vaccine, you still need to take precautions.

"Keep masking up," said Kris Ehresmann with the Minnesota Department of Health. "Keep socially distancing. Keep engaging in those mitigation measures for the next number of months."

If you are planning on gathering with loved ones, doctors say you should start isolating now and get a COVID-19 test in three or four days so you can get the results in time for Christmas.

"If you've had the test for COVID-19, the test is negative and you've isolated for five to seven days, then you can be reasonably confident you can see your loved ones," said Dr. Annie Ideker with HealthPartners.