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Some Colorado families limiting holiday activities due to respiratory illness risk

RSV, COVID-19, cold and flu: For some parents, the risks of exposure to illness outweigh some holiday traditions this year.

COLORADO, USA — RSV is still surging through Colorado, challenging both families and hospitals.

Almost 200 children were hospitalized with the virus last week, according to the state health department.

Since the beginning of October, the state reports more than 1,100 RSV hospitalizations. At least 90% of those hospitalized have been children.

A lot of parents, especially parents with very young children, are looking closely at the risks. And many have decided to dial back on holiday plans this year.

“Normally we would head home to Florida where the majority of my family is for Thanksgiving,” said Danielle Wallach, who has a newborn daughter, Kamille.

Wallach and her husband, David Rodziewicz, decided to skip the trip this year.

“She’s our number one priority. Of course it’s a hard decision, but keeping her healthy and safe is our number one priority as a parent. So it's kind of sad, but overall I think we’re making the right decision,” she said.

“I think we’re just going to defer to February,” Rodziewicz said. “And go down to Florida and see people when coast is clear, [when] she’s fully vaccinated, and it’s a little safer for the family.”

Credit: KUSA

Some parents are reconsidering various holiday traditions: airplane travel, large group gatherings, even visits with Santa Claus.

Credit: Amanda Reichert

Amanda Reichert has an 8-week-old baby and a toddler. She said her family decided to pull out of daycare for several months to ride out the illness wave, and rely on their family leave time from work. They're trying to do outside activities where they can social distance.

“Everyone has to wear masks and wash hands to hold the baby, no extended family, no friends or coworkers and [I’m] wearing baby close to me for gatherings when we have to,” Reichert said in an Instagram message. “It’s a lot to handle but we’re doing the best we can.”

Cathryn Sanders said she missed a holiday music show at the Rialto Theater in Loveland due to illness.

“I am on the downside of respiratory issues and still coughing heavily, do not want to ruin it for everyone else,” she said in an Instagram message.

In addition to being a new parent, Wallach is also a doctor. She now parents through a healthcare lens.

“I’m a gynecologist. Taking care of my patients and keeping them healthy is the utmost priority as well,” she said.

“I always try to offer people evidence-based decision making. I know some of my decisions are based on emotion, because I’m watching out for her, and that may not be the decision someone else wants to make," she said.

Wallach and her family plan to start some new traditions this year. Some family will be visiting them in Denver, but on a limited basis and with extra precautions ahead of their visit.

“We’re definitely going to set up a tree. We have [David’s] parents coming in, they’re playing it safe, specifically the two weeks before,” she said.

“And yeah – we’ll create some new traditions. And celebrate a little later when rates come down after the winter season."


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