Día de los Muertos celebrations should be kept small, outdoors due to COVID-19 risk, CDC warns

Large dinner parties should be avoided, CDC says

Performers make their way along the parade route as over 30,000 people take part in Europe's largest Halloween street parade on Oct. 31, 2015 in Londonderry, Northern Ireland. Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images

SAN ANTONIO – Día de Los Muertos is a time for family and friends to honor the lives of the loved ones they’ve lost over the years, but the CDC is urging people to refrain from hosting large gatherings due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has issued tips to follow for those who want to honor loved ones who have passed away but don’t want to be at risk for contracting the virus.

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“Many traditional activities can put you at higher risk for exposure to COVID-19," the CDC states. “There are several safer, alternative ways to celebrate Día de los Muertos. If you may have COVID-19 or you may have been exposed to someone with COVID-19, you should not participate in in-person Día de los Muertos festivities.”

The CDC listed out three categories of activities — low, moderate and high risk — for Día de los Muertos, as well as Halloween and Thanksgiving.

Here are the activities considered generally safe or dangerous for the three upcoming holidays:

Día de los Muertos

  • Lower risk activities include preparing family recipes for others and delivering them in a safe way, decorating masks, decorating altars and having a virtual celebration.
  • Moderate risk activities include hosting an outdoor parade, visiting cemetery graves and hosting small dinner celebrations.
  • Higher risk activities include attending large indoor celebrations with singing or chanting or holding large dinner parties.

If you’re hosting or attending a gathering, the CDC advises taking these factors into consideration:

  • Check the level of community spread of COVID-19 in your city. “Higher levels of COVID-19 cases and community spread in the gathering location, as well as where attendees are coming from, increase the risk of infection and spread among attendees,” the CDC states.
  • Choose a location with good ventilation if the gathering is indoors. Indoor gatherings lend themselves to greater spread of the virus, the CDC states. Consider opening windows or doors.
  • Gatherings shouldn’t be too long, as they pose more of a risk for virus spread.
  • Gatherings should stay limited to reduce the risk of spread. “CDC does not have a limit or recommend a specific number of attendees for gatherings. The size of a holiday gathering should be determined based on the ability to reduce or limit contact between attendees, the risk of spread between attendees, and state, local, territorial, or tribal health and safety laws, rules, and regulations,” the website states.
  • Host parties with people only from your community if possible.
  • Consider where party attendees are traveling from and their maturity. Guests who do not adhere to social distancing or do not wear masks pose a greater risk, the CDC states.
  • Ask guests to avoid contact with people outside their household prior to attending the gathering.
  • Avoid contact like handshaking, elbow bumping or hugging.
  • Attendees should avoid singing, chanting or shouting, especially when not wearing a mask.

The CDC states large gatherings to celebrate Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, Halloween, Día de los Muertos, Navratri, Diwali, Thanksgiving, Día de la Virgen de Guadalupe, Hanukah, Kwanzaa, Christmas and New Year’s can put people at a greater risk of contracting the virus.

That risk will increase when travel is mixed in, the CDC states.

People should not attend gatherings if they have been diagnosed with COVID-19 and have not recovered. Avoid gatherings if you’re a person at increased risk for severe illness.

About the Author

Rebecca Salinas is an award-winning digital journalist who joined KSAT in 2019. She reports on a variety of topics for KSAT 12 News.

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