Help Our Heroes to Give Us All a Safe and Happy New Year

frontline health workers

by Harry Rossiter, PhD

As we tuck into a hearty holiday meal and draw the curtain forever on the disaster that was 2020, please spare a thought for our heroes in the hospital who are in midst of the fight of their lives. From doctors to nurses, therapists to cleaners, all those who work in contact with COVID-19 patients are putting themselves, and their families, at risk every working day.

We truly hope that the COVID-19 case rates are low wherever you are, reading this. The current situation in PERF’s local area is as bad as it could be. Los Angeles County hit 0% spare ICU capacity last week, and the cases continue to rise. The sad reality is that many of these ICU wards are occupied by entire families, who came together for special celebrations over the past weeks. If you have any doubt about the extreme high risk that COVID-19 currently poses for us all, have a listen to Lindsey Burrell, an ICU nurse at Little Company of Mary Hospital in Torrance, CA, who was interviewed on FOX11 LA last week. 

Throughout this pandemic, we’ve had regular “rounds of applause” for our heroes dressed in medical blue. Restaurants, who are also in desperate financial straits, have even been donating holiday meals for overworked staff. So, if you are asking yourself what you can do to help our frontline workers, the answer is to make the hard choice not to travel or see those outside your household this holiday season.

This link has some excellent suggestions from the American Thoracic Society for “special occasion” strategies, aimed at reducing the risk of spreading COVID-19 this holiday; to keep you and your loved ones safe. These holiday celebration safety tips include:

  1. Celebrate with only members of your household. “Household” does not mean “family members”, it means only people who currently live with you in your house.
  2. If you are getting together with people who do not live in your household, gather only outdoors and keep the group small. Be sure to wear masks and maintain social distancing. If people have to briefly remove their masks while drinking/eating, keep a safe distance to avoid spreading the virus and wash hands often. Plan ahead, and make your expectations clear to all who will attend.
  3. Limit nonessential travel.
  4. Set expectations related to outdoor gatherings, including what to do if weather is inclement.
  5. Deliver holiday foods to local friends and neighbors in a contact-free way. Let them know that there is no evidence that COVID-19 is transmitted through food. Reassure them that you prepared this food in keeping with safety guidelines. For more information on food safety and COVID-19, click here
  6. Encourage your out of town guests to visit “virtually” this year rather than in person.
  7. Be creative about how to be safe and social during this unique time.


So, please show your gratitude to our frontline health workers by doing everything you can to keep out of harm’s way this holiday period. Let’s all look forward to a far brighter 2021.