coronavirus pandemic

Health Officials Warn About Parties, Indoor Gatherings Ahead of Holiday Weekend

Public health officials across the United States say they are seeing more clusters of COVID-19 cases stemming from small indoor gatherings

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Ahead of the holiday weekend, San Diego County officials are warning people to stay vigilant about public health guidance. Of the 242 community outbreaks since March 25, 10 of those originated at private residences.

A community outbreak is defined as three or more people testing positive from one location.

New data released by the county on Thursday provides a little more detail about where those outbreaks happened: Since March 25, 51 people tested positive for COVID-19 at private residences, and, at just two homes, there were 10 positive tests connected to one and 9 to another.

Tommy Macias, a Lake Elsinore man, was hospitalized in June after attending a party where he contracted COVID-19. He passed away days after the gathering but left a warning on his social media telling people to not let their guard down when it comes to parties.

"It was just one moment for him, you know, because things were becoming so much more lenient," said his niece Danielle Lopez. "He decided he hadn’t seen his friends in so long, and he thought things were getting better. He thought things were going OK, so he decided to go see them, and just so quickly he was taken from us."

The numbers of COVID-19 cases stemming from small gatherings adds up. according to experts.

"Every small event you add up that you know, introduces a significant burden of disease in the community and are potential vectors themselves for further spread of COVID-19 outside of that unit," said Dr. Peter Chin-Hong, an infectious disease specialist and professor of medicine at UCSF.

Chin-Hong said that it's harder to socially distance when you're indoors and that the ventilation can also make it easier for droplets to spread. He also that when people are drinking when they are with close family or friends they haven't seen in awhile, it's easy to let your guard down. He added that if you have to invite people over, try to do it outside. If you're inside, try to keep windows open for better ventilation and try to keep the size of the group small.

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