Risk vs. reward: Local families weigh their options for gathering this holiday season

BOSTON — Despite strong travel warnings in place, millions of people are boarding planes or hitting the road this week.  For Massachusetts residents, if you go to any other state, except Vermont or Hawaii, you will have to test negative for COVID-19 before returning home or quarantine.

At this point, it becomes a simple risk versus rewards equation - asking yourself if seeing your kids or if seeing grandma for the first time in months is worth the risk.

“I’m not going to my kid’s house for Thanksgiving,” said Dedham resident Linda Ochenduszko.

The risk versus reward question is a little easier for Ochenduszko’s family. They’ve seen each other a couple of times this year. Plus, she’s a little older so they decided the smaller the group, the better.

“I have a man upstairs who doesn’t have any family at all,” said Ochenduszko. “So I’m going to stay home and cook something for him.”

The same question for Heather Ufland’s family was a little harder since they haven’t been together much this year. Still, they ultimately decided to also keep things separate.

“Typically we go to Connecticut to see my sisters,” said Ufland. “We are doing things differently this year. My dad is sick in the hospital. We are hoping that he makes it home before then and we will just have dinner with my parents and my kids and it’ll be a smaller gathering this year.”

So how can you calculate risk versus reward in your home?

First ask if you have anyone in your family who is considered part of the group of people at elevated risk for COVID-19, maybe gathering isn’t such a great idea.

“Individuals over the age of 50, those with diabetes, heart disease, kidney disease, underlying lung problems, anyone who takes medication that may weaken their immune system and ultimately anyone who’s obese or overweight,” said Dr. Christina Madison who has a background in public health and infectious communicable diseases.

She says that, even if none of your family meets that criteria, you should still have a small gathering. If you don’t want to do it for your own family, do it for the doctors on the frontlines.

“They are exhausted because they have been doing this since the spring and they haven’t gotten a break,” said Dr. Madison. “If you think about how long it took for us to get from 8 million to 9 million cases, it took us about a month and a half. From 9 million to ten million cases, it took us eleven days. It took us six days to get from ten million to eleven million cases if that gives you any indication. We are in uncharted territory right now.”

“I would rather be safe and I would rather have my family be safe than to cause a whole problem,” said Ochenduszko.

Madison says that, when calculating risk versus reward, it’s also worth doing some math. If you have 10 people in your home, that’s twice the probability of someone testing positive than if you have five.

Follow Wale on Facebook: WaleAliyuTV Twitter: @WaleAliyu or Instagram: WaleAliyuTV 

Download the free Boston 25 News app for up-to-the-minute push alerts

>> Complete local and national coronavirus coverage here


- Complete local and national coronavirus coverage here

- Follow us on Facebook and Twitter | Watch Boston 25 NOW

- Download our free apps for your phone and smart TV

Comments on this article