Día de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, is a festive, multi-day cultural celebration among Mexican and Latinx communities where family and friends come together to pay respects to friends and family members who have died. The celebrations can sometimes take a serious or a humorous tone, as celebrants remember funny events and anecdotes about the departed, marked by gatherings, music, colorful costumes, and food.
This year, Día de los Muertos celebrations are expected to take place during the global pandemic once again, which means the COVID-19 safety measures observed over the past 20 months should still be followed to protect your loved ones. This is particularly important since 26.2% of all COVID-19 cases in the U.S. have been among Hispanics and Latinos, representing 18.45% of the total deaths from the virus.
To keep everyone protected during this special celebration, Wellstar has compiled some tips for a fun and safe Día de los Muertos celebration.
1 – Vaccination can make celebrations safer: Now that we have the protection of COVID-19 vaccines available, every celebration and gathering can be safer. The more people in your group who have been fully vaccinated, the better for everyone, especially if other safety measures are followed. If you are eligible, be sure and get a booster as soon as you can, too.
2 – Make masks the star of Catrina costumes: Masks are not only fun, they’re also proven to minimize the spread of the virus for everyone age two and older. Get creative by incorporating masks in Catrina costumes and make-up by using fabric paint, glued-on sequins, or stickers to decorate them. In a pinch, use a printed Catrina mask and do your make-up to match or complement the mask. Don’t forget to share photos on social media with the hashtag #celebraciónsegura.
3 – Celebrate outside with appropriate social distancing: Outside is the best place to celebrate. Weather and health permitting, being outside to celebrate Día de los Muertos can promote airflow and help minimize close contact with others. For parades and visits to gravesites, wear a mask and stay at least two meters apart from people who do not live with you. “Air” hugs and waves are much safer than physical hugging and kissing during the pandemic.
4 – Avoid shared food and utensils: Because parties can be a big part of Día de los Muertos, not sharing food and utensils is one of the best ways to keep the spread of COVID-19 in check. If you do get together with a few close friends and family members, take measures to make it a safe celebration by bringing your own meal and utensils to limit sharing or use disposable items. As convenient as it may be, a buffet-style meal is not a good idea during a pandemic. Space your tables and chairs out, possibly outside or in a large area, to limit the spread of the disease, and wear a mask when you are not eating, especially those who are unvaccinated.
5 – Wash hands and sanitize: During the celebration, keep disinfectant wipes nearby to use on surfaces such as tables, chairs, and doorknobs. Everyone should frequently wash and sanitize their hands and remind children and other family members about all safety measures to help keep everyone COVID-free.
6 – Stay at home: Everyone loves a party, but it’s best to avoid any gathering, particularly if you have underlying health conditions such as diabetes, heart or lung issues, obesity, cancer, or other conditions that compromise your immune system. With the rise in pediatric COVID-19 cases, since many children are still not vaccinated, they may also be at greater risk of infection. Anyone can be a carrier or become infected and seriously ill, but these groups are at the greatest risk of contracting and succumbing to COVID. If anyone in your group is feeling ill or has symptoms, it's best to play it safe and stay home to celebrate.
Regardless of how you choose to celebrate Día de los Muertos and the autumn season with fun activities during the pandemic, be sure and refer to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines for specific guidance on how to stay safe and well.