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Patti Neighmond

At the start of the pandemic, stores quickly sold out of disinfectant sprays and wipes. People were advised to wipe down their packages and the cans they bought at the grocery store.

But scientists have learned a lot this year about the coronavirus and how it's transmitted, and it turns out all that scrubbing and disinfecting might not be necessary.

It's supposed to be the happiest time of the year, but this year it doesn't really feel like it. With many of us hunkered down at home, some having lost jobs, others having lost friends and family members to COVID-19 or other illnesses, it's tempting to give this holiday season a miss.

But it's important to find joy and meaning in the midst of this dark winter — and carrying on with favorite holiday traditions can help. NPR checked in with medical researchers to figure out how risky our favorite customs are, and highlight ways we can all celebrate more safely.

Karen McCullough never wanted a dog. "It would have tied me down, and I had a great, very busy life," she says.

Her career as a keynote speaker at conferences has taken her across the U.S., Canada and Mexico. "My job is to get everybody engaged, excited and ready to network," she says.

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Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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Attending school remotely is hard for kids, and it turns out it can be hard to return to school, too. That's because of the isolation and worry kids have experienced during the pandemic. NPR's Patti Neighmond reports.

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