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'It's not all or none' | How to gather safely during the coronavirus pandemic

Medical experts believe the coronavirus is here to stay for another 6 to possibly 12 months, so they say these are a lot more than just guidelines.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Based on contact tracing, public health officers believe many of the spikes in coronavirus cases are related to private house gatherings.

But medical experts say there are ways to still hold social gatherings with some slight modifications to keep everyone safe.

"The first thing that's most important on the list is to have an outdoor gathering," Dr. Payal Kohli, a medical expert, said.

Dr. Kohli says the risk of spreading the virus indoors is actually 19 times higher than the risk of spreading it outdoors, so any house parties might be better fit for your backyard.

She says make sure you ask your guests to wear a mask until it's time to eat or drink, and keep a social distance of at least six to 10 feet apart.

"If you're going to invite people into your home or your backyard over the summer, you have to be sure that you trust that they've been following the rules as well," she said.

During the pandemic, she says it's critical to know where your small group of guests have been and who they have come into contact with. If they're not sure, she suggests making a friend or family member be what she calls your "COVID Buddy."


"Both of you go get tested together, and then as soon as that test comes back negative, you both can spend time with each other in a safe manner. And you've essentially reset the clock on your activity patterns," she said.

As for potlucks, she says those are OK. But she suggests doing it with separate serving tools for every person and hot food that you can reheat and transfer into different clean containers.

"So you want to try to really have potlucks with food that is something you can heat up... because that reduces the risk of transmission," Dr. Kohli said. "And then, ideally, you want to transfer it into a container that's clean or freshly clean so that you're not contaminating the container or the food further."

Even Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, agrees that modified house gatherings are OK so people don't completely shut out all social interactions.

"It's not all or none," Fauci said. "It's not lock down or caution to the wind. There is an intermediate in there, and that's what we've got to do. We've got to do the fundamental basics."

Dr. Kohli says she believes the coronavirus is here to stay for another six to possibly 12 months. To her, these are a lot more than just guidelines.

"It's not a suggestion," she said. "This is an absolute requirement, because if we don't get all hands on deck, we're going to hemorrhage to death. If things continue along this trajectory, we may lose all of the progress we've made and have to think about closing down parts of our country again, and that's the last thing we want to do."


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WATCH ALSO: Northern California health officials blame coronavirus cases surge to in-home gatherings