After its credibility took a major beating following its latest confusing shift in its guidance, the CDC has released guidelines for the holiday season that many Americans will likely find a little too cumbersome to manage.
The guidelines urge Americans to limit dinners to immediate family only; celebrations with larger groups of relatives - if they must be held - should be held outside. For most of the country east of the Mississippi, that might be difficult in the bitter December cold.
The agency also cautioned that virtual gatherings are 'risk free'.
Anybody hosting a celebratory gathering should take local restrictions into account.
One of the more bizarre recommendations is for families that absolutely must host Thanksgiving or Christmas (or Hannukah etc) dinners: they should have participants bring their own food, to minimize the sharing of communal food.
Large celebrations for Dia de los Muertos should be avoided, as well as parade.
Black Friday sales might not be a great strategy for retailers who are struggling to make it through the pandemic. Instead, the CDC recommends alternatives such as virtual Halloween costume contests, or holding a small dinner for household members - as well as shopping online.
Kids - along with many adults - will be happy to learn that Halloween trick or treating can continue almost as normal, since most of the activity takes place outside, and kids can wear masks with their costumes, Bloomberg reports.
The National Confectioners Association, a trade group that represents candy-makers, said in a statement that the new CDC guidance “reinforces that Halloween is happening and provides inspiration for creative and safe approaches to celebrating the holiday."
The organization also provided a statement from Stephen Ostroff, a former CDC and Food and Drug Administration official who has been working with the industry group “to help Americans take the guesswork out of Halloween."
"Halloween is traditionally an outdoor holiday and the one time of the year when kids want to wear a mask,” Ostroff said. “This is fully consistent with the CDC safety guidelines, and with the appropriate physical distancing, trick-or-treating can safely happen.”
Let's hope the agency doesn't retract and reverse the Halloween-related guidance tomorrow, like it did with its latest update to its guidelines.
As the holiday guidelines are released, it's clear that saving face has become a top priority for the CDC and FDA. The Washington Post reported Tuesday afternoon that the FDA is planning to announce tough new restrictions for emergency vaccine approval as Bill Gates and an army of critics slam the CDC and FDA.