Breaking News
More () »

Hoping to celebrate Christmas with people you don't live with? Doctors say get tested, start 'social bubble' now

"To do this correctly, you need to do a lot of planning, do a lot of testing and be very serious about quarantining," said Dr. Luis Ostrosky with UT Physicians.

HOUSTON — As of Tuesday, Dec. 8, there are nearly 300,000 cases of COVID-19 reported in the Houston area. More than 3,800 people have died, and 254,119 people have recovered from the virus.

Dr. Luis Ostrosky, an infectious disease specialist for UT Physicians and UT Health, is urging families to consider forming a “family bubble” right now, because this Friday will mark exactly two weeks, or 14 days, before Christmas.

The “bubble” concept worked for the NBA, so Dr. Ostrosky said if you and your family follow the strict process, a “bubble” could work for you, too.

“The thing we don’t want people doing is think that they can just go and get tested two days before flying out to see their grandparents and be OK, because we have a 14-day incubation period of the virus," Ostrosky said.

That’s why Ostrosky is calling for a 14-day quarantine before Christmas.

“To do this correctly, you actually need to quarantine for 14 days before visiting family,” and each person needs to take a COVID-19 test multiple times within those 14 days to make sure each person is not asymptomatic.

But some people are not able to work or study from home, so what do you do then

“So in that situation, you cannot safely do a bubble. And that’s what people don’t understand. You may be OK, be asymptomatic and not die of COVID-19. But you need to think about others and you need to think of your family, where you could be infecting your grandmother, an uncle, an aunt, and unfortunately they can lose their life," Ostrosky said.

Ostrosky reminds us that all it takes is one person not following the rules for an entire family to become exposed and potentially infected. And we’ve seen that happen. Several members of a single family have become sick with COVID-19, even hospitalized, after they gathered for a celebration.

So if you can’t quarantine, or your holiday gathering is in less than 14 days, “my advice to them is to stay home and celebrate with your nuclear family," Ostrosky said.

But after several months of social distancing, spending the holidays apart may be really hard for some people who’ve been looking forward to time with loved ones.

“What I hear is, I don’t want to disappoint the kids. And I don’t want to disappoint my mother or father. But again, now we have the light at the end of the tunnel," Ostrosky said. "We have vaccines that are being rolled out. We know that masking and social distancing work in the meantime. And all we need is just a couple more months of focus to get this out of the way, once and for all, so all of us can live our normal lives. And if we don’t take action now and in the next couple of months, we’re just going to prolong this pain and suffering for many months.”

Before You Leave, Check This Out