COVID-19 and the holidays: These next few months will be toughest yet

Pediatrician Dr. Candace Jones is this week’s Florida’s Fourth Estate guest

Thanksgiving is in the rearview mirror and now all the signs ahead point to grandma’s house for Christmas.

Any other year we would hit the cruise control, adjust our stretch pants and be on our merry way hoping greedy Uncle Joe doesn’t eat all the pecan pie before you even arrive but this is a year the likes of which we’ve never seen before.

It’s a year, where at least right now, there doesn’t seem to be an end to the COVID-19 pandemic in sight even though vaccines are now being distributed throughout the U.S.

Why the gloom and doom attitude you ask?

Well, for starters, Florida recently past the 1 million mark for coronavirus cases.

The Sunday after Thanksgiving the TSA reported its busiest day since the pandemic began with more than 44,000 passengers flying out of Orlando International Airport.

And this is after the Centers for Disease Control advised families to stay at home. Forget flying, they didn’t even want you crossing county lines in a car to spend Thanksgiving with loved ones. Too risky.

Based on the numbers above, I think we know how that request from the CDC was received.

This week on Florida’s Fourth Estate, News 6 anchor Ginger Gadsden caught up with Orlando pediatrician, Dr. Candace Jones to help the little ones navigate something even adults cannot seem to fully wrap their brains around.

In March, did any of us really think we would still be in this pandemic?

We certainly didn’t think it would become the top pick for word of the year by Oxford Dictionary.

In fact, Oxford says the use of the word pandemic has increased by more than 57,000% this year. Oh, if only it were a stock.

Coronavirus isn’t leaving our English lexicon anytime soon so we have to figure out how to talk to our kids about it.

Dr. Jones has some advice to help your kids adjust to these abnormal times.

When asked her biggest worry moving forward to the Christmas holiday, Dr. Jones says she’s very concerned because people obviously didn’t do what they were asked to do for Thanksgiving.

“You know that if this continues that we are going to have a long hard winter, that hospitals are going to be overburdened, some already are. That more people, unfortunately are going to get very sick and die,” she said. “Those are my fears. And, I hate to fear monger, but it’s the reality that has already been going on.”

Dr. Jones says based on the pattern we saw for Thanksgiving, she thinks we are going to see an exponential growth in coronavirus cases.

These are tough times for families who have been apart for months. For many of them, this is the one time of year they see relatives.

Dr. Jones says parents need to talk to their little ones now about why they will not be seeing their grandparents for Christmas.

She says make sure you have an age appropriate conversation about covid with the kids.

Part of the conversations should explain they have to keep everyone, especially grandparents, healthy.

Dr. Jones suggests parents should start planning now to have a creative and festive Zoom visit. She says make sure to let the kids play a role in planning the activities for the day.

“You let them brainstorm and be a part of that planning so they can own it and kids are very creative and they will come up with some wonderful ideas for everyone to be safe but enjoy the holiday” says Dr. Jones.

Dr. Jones says before any family gathering for the holidays there must be some ground rules.

Ground rules for families who do decide to get together. Will it be outside? Will everyone wear a mask? Will people who have come from out of town isolate before coming over?

These next few months will likely be the toughest of the pandemic.

Dr. Jones says we can all still do the right thing, it’s just going to take extra work from everyone.

If you want to hear some other ideas Dr. Jones has for letting the kids get creative and plan a socially distanced holiday, download this week’s edition of Florida’s Fourth Estate.

Florida’s Fourth Estate looks at everything from swampy politics to a fragile environment and even the crazy headlines that make Florida the craziest state in the Union.

Ginger Gadsden and Matt Austin use decades of experience as journalists to dissect the headlines that impact Florida. Each week they have a guest host who helps give an irreverent look at the issues impacting the Sunshine State. Big influencers, like Attorney John Morgan, renowned Florida journalists and the scientists protecting Florida’s ecosystem, can often be found as guests.

Look for new episodes every Friday on iTunes, Stitcher or wherever you listen to your favorite podcasts.

Listen to the full episode of Florida’s Fourth Estate on iTunes here or on Sticher here.

About the Author:

Ginger Gadsden joined the News 6 team in June 2014 as an anchor/reporter. She currently co-anchors the 4 p.m. 5:30 p.m. and the 7 p.m. newscasts.