Pandemic Action Network Urges Caution and Creativity: This Holiday Season, Spread CHEER Not COVID

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New CHEER Tips Translate Public Health Recommendations Into 5 Ways to Stay Healthy and Merry

December 9, 2020, Seattle, WA—With daily cases surging in many parts of the world, and hospitals in the U.S. and many other countries slammed by COVID-19, the Pandemic Action Network is joining the chorus of leaders asking people to scale back their holiday plans. But with one twist: the Network is emphasizing ramping up the fun and creativity while adapting to new traditions that can keep people healthy and safe.

“We have an important message this holiday season: Spread CHEER not COVID,” said Gabrielle Fitzgerald, co-founder of the Pandemic Action Network. “People are craving holiday joy, even more so in the face the unspeakable illness and tragedy we’ve faced during this ongoing pandemic. Our CHEER tips can help make the holidays both merry and safe.”

The five CHEER tips are:

  • Cover your face. Wear a mask to protect you and those around you, especially if you are indoors.
  • Handwash often. Wash with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after removing your mask. Use hand sanitizer as a back-up.
  • Explore virtual activities. Get creative with online game nights, meals, movie watching or gift exchanges with friends or families.
  • Enjoy outside. If you must meet up with people you don’t live with, go outdoors. Even then, keep distance and masked!
  • Remember we are in this together. Until COVID-19 is gone, we must do our part to keep ourselves and our communities safe.


Pandemic Action Network partners helping lead the charge to #SpreadCHEER not COVID this season include the Federation of American Scientists, iHeartMedia, Facebook, National Foundation for Infectious Diseases (NFID) and dozens of other national and global organizations that make up the Network. iHeartMedia, for example, is supplying 30-second radio PSAs with the Spread CHEER message to its 800 radio stations around the United States.

In the U.S., the CDC is urging Americans to avoid travel during the winter holiday season. For those who decide to travel, the CDC recommends getting a COVID-19 test one to three days before the trip and another three to five days after travel. And regardless of where people celebrate the holiday, heeding guidelines and protocols from local public health leaders can help stop the exponential increases in cases we are seeing.

The Federation of American Scientists convened a group of leading behavioral scientists to advise on the development of its safe holiday initiative. Ultimately, the counsel helped produce messaging that is both empathetic and actionable; recognizing that we’ve all been through a lot this year, we need joy in our lives, but we also want to protect ourselves and our loved ones. The CHEER tips can help people navigate a perilous season.

“During the COVID-19 pandemic, people have been asked to adopt behaviors that are good for society but can be hard on them. Behavioral science helps us understand the best way to motivate people to adhere to such requests—to take on a cost for the benefit of others,” said Erez Yoeli, PhD, research scientist at MIT’s Sloan School of Management. Dr. Yoeli, whose research focuses on altruism, advised on the development of the Spread CHEER messaging. “This holiday season, we need to communicate the benefit to the community and be as unambiguous as possible about the guidance… all while demonstrating our understanding that everyone is badly—and rightly—craving joy right now. Spread CHEER not COVID hits those notes.”

The Pandemic Action Network is urging people and organizations to share ideas on how they will #SpreadCHEER not COVID on social media, tagging friends and family to pass on the momentum.

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The Pandemic Action Network was launched in April 2020 to drive collective action to help bring an end to COVID-19 and to ensure the world is prepared for the next pandemic. Since launch, the Network has been working with influencers to promote mask wearing– along with social distancing and handwashing – to help stop the spread of COVID-19. In August, the Pandemic Action Network introduced World Mask Week, and recently launched African Mask Week. Now facing surging rates of COVID-19, catalyzing the Network to share the important #SpreadCHEER message this holiday season is crucial to help slow the pandemic and save lives.

About the Pandemic Action Network
The Pandemic Action Network drives collective action to help bring an end to COVID-19 and to ensure the world is prepared for the next pandemic. The Network consists of 40+ organizations aligned on the mission to promote policies that save the most lives and protect livelihoods by ending the cycle of panic and neglect on pandemics.