Current COVID Lifestyle

November 17, 2020
looks comfy but currently unavailable

I had a dream about COVID and being exposed — my first during this pandemic, if you can believe it (or at least the first one that I remember).

The state’s positivity rate is up to 7-9% and I continue to be surprised I (we) haven’t gotten it yet. Every day I have clinic, I see another patient who had it or whose family was impacted by it.

I just hope our luck can continue until a vaccine is available!

For posterity, here is my personal current COVID “policy” for our family:

Comfortable doing:

Outdoor public playdates (ie, at outdoor gardens or the beach – lots of space for kids to spread out), with masks

Going to doctors’, dentist, and other similar appointments (again, with masks).

Going to stores, with masks

Going to work on patient care days, with masks & face shield

Sending kids to school where masks & social distancing practices are in place (though G does not stay masked at school — even though she has been pretty good about doing it at other venues. Working on that esp now that she is turning 3.)

Allowing kids to play outdoor sports, though I am not super thrilled about masks not staying on the whole time (C is doing soccer)

PS: My usual day to day mask is a surgical mask with a cloth mask layered on top. This is the most comfortable for me, and I do not have enough N95 masks to wear all the time. If I am in a particularly high risk situation I will use an N95 (ie, seeing a patient being ruled out for COVID).

Not going to be doing until we are out of the pandemic woods:

(hopefully due to an effective vaccine at some point!)

Sending kid to school with runny nose. (Because I definitely don’t anyone ELSE sending their kid in with a runny nose!!!! Runny noses are now like . . basically a life bomb.)

Eating with anyone other than immediate family in close proximity, indoors or outdoors. Just . . . doesn’t seem worth it. (Josh eats in the hospital cafeteria which has plexiglass and distancing but I have no desire. When I’m at work, I go to my office & shut the door.)

Gatherings even if outdoors where there is eating/drinking (things get loud –> mask is off to drink wine or whatever–> people talking loudly at each other –> VIRAL PARTICLES FLYING EVERYWHERE). Maybe not, but this is what I imagine and it’s just not appealing. Plus, having to corral the kids in a COVID environment where there isn’t room for them to truly run around = no. Finally, for me the whole thing would be stressful and wouldn’t that completely defeat the purpose of said event? Just no.

Family gatherings. I could envision something very small & outdoors but then keeping Viva away from others would be challenging & I feel like there is a greater than 0% chance she could give someone with very high risks COVID, which is greater than acceptable.

Air travel. Sad, but no. Esp with kids, too risky.

Cruises. Did you know we had one planned for Aug 2021? HA! Not happening. Hoping for 2022.

Basically anything where the stress of keeping the kids away from others outweighs the benefits of the gathering (ie, most social things even outside)

I recognize that my behaviors may sound risky to some and overly paranoid to others. (Please do not attack me or each other in the comments!) Also, please note the above are not based on any official rules or guidelines, but just what I continue to glean & read from various sources (NPR, Emily Oster, Infectious Disease/Immunology people I work with). I hope I can look back at this list in ~2 years and think “WOW THAT WAS A VERY INTERESTING TIME!”


  • Reply CBS November 17, 2020 at 7:24 am

    We definitely feel more cautious than many of our friends/neighbours, definitely no indoor dining or socializing. We send our kid to nursery and my husband is in the office (with okay mask and social distancing compliance) 1-2 days a week, which feels like enough risk. I work from home. We do a masked shop 1-2 days a week and will meet friends at the play park, or grab a takeaway coffee and go for a walk on the beach or in the woods (typically unmasked but socially distanced) every few weeks. We normally take the bus but have been driving or cycling since the pandemic began. I have lupus and it’s unclear how the virus impacts people with lupus, but I don’t want to find out.

    Over the summer, when cases were much lower here, we had a few meals out but I wouldn’t do it now that rates are higher.

  • Reply gwinne November 17, 2020 at 7:33 am

    Hi, Sarah. Just wanted to say I appreciate you discussing how your family is handling These Times. One time I’d really like to live in a place it doesn’t snow 5-6 months of the year… We’ve also been relying on the outdoor masked playdate. Just can’t happen for a while. Our state now has a three week period of heightened requirements, and we’ve decided to stop our afternoon school arrangement for the time being. It’s going to be a LONG THREE WEEKS if Tiny Boy can’t see his pal outside.

  • Reply Sarah S. November 17, 2020 at 8:09 am

    I also want to chime in and thank you for putting this list out there. I really appreciate the glimpse of how you and other commenters are handling these tough decisions. Cases are way up here in MA so we’re being extra cautious to limit shopping trips and other possible exposure, but we have struggled with sending out 3 year old to part time preschool. The preschool follows all of the rules to minimize risk, but we also have enough job flexibility that we can keep him home (with long term consequences for stress levels). The comments a few posts back about keeping kids home the week after Thanksgiving was an idea I had not thought of and haven’t seen elsewhere. I think that’s what we’re going to do, so thanks for sharing your thoughts and providing a place for sharing.

  • Reply A. November 17, 2020 at 8:32 am

    I also appreciate this post. We live in a very low risk city, but I feel our public health is doing such a good job here and people I know are all following strict guideline. This is really how you do it, cause if because you think that because you are in low risk region you can start doing risky things (inside gathering, even small), that is exactly how cases go up. And if public health is bad at managing those, well you begin to have higher positivity like those you mention and things go down from there.

  • Reply Anna November 17, 2020 at 8:41 am

    What’s been interesting for me has been how my “rules” (I like guidelines better though!) have evolved over time and are dictated by both the rate of infection and sad to say but me just getting too burnt out on being overly restrictive.

    I’m in NYC.

    March/April- I would try to not even go outside bc I worried that it was lingering in the air. Psychotic level thinking but I saw a video of them disinfecting the air in China and freaked out. I went out once a wk for a few wks. Then I got like 6 N95s and would use those when outside in nyc and I would walk in the street to avoid ppl.

    Then I spent a few months in Vermont bc I was losing my mind in nyc. Now back to nyc bc I was losing my mind in VT… lol

    Now I am okay w running in a surgical mask and walking in a KN95 + surgical. On the sidewalk like a normal person. (I feel too naked walking in a surgical mask and too restricted running in more gear….). The running started last wk so this is a new development.

    I have two N95s I rotate through for indoor activities- I switch to my outdoor masks right away when I go outside to preserve the n95s.

    I now actually don’t even avoid stores. There are lots of pick up and delivery grocery options and I’m gonna start using them again this week though as rates are rising fast tho.

    I did eat outdoors with friends a few times in the past few weeks (!!). Careful friends, no other strangers around (so we picked restaurants w proper social distancing), and I put a surgical mask on when I wasn’t actively eating.

    I’m also moving to a place with a big private backyard (!!!!!) so Altho maybe I should curtail the outdoor eating, I may pod up with two friends and do a bit more of it 😬…. weather permitting.

    Btw there is a store here that sells N95s at a markup, which obviously is so not good (but at least the markup prevents ppl from buying too many of them? Still not good and I rather not support them but it also gives me relief that it’s an option). I can def send you some if you want though. They sell moreso construction type ones than healthcare type so it’s not gonna pass fit testing.

    What a year though…

  • Reply Karen November 17, 2020 at 9:17 am

    Thank you so much for sharing. We are in western Canada which was great earlier in the pandemic but is horrible now. Our family policies are very similar to yours. Pretty much we have daycare and outdoor play dates.

    I would definitely suggest sledding for those with as much winter as we have. Going up the hill certainly wears kids out!

  • Reply KGC November 17, 2020 at 9:52 am

    Thanks for sharing what you’re comfortable doing – I like hearing from others! We are similar. Our big risk is daycare – both kids (4.5 and 1.5) are in a small in-home setting with three other families of two sibs each. We have accepted that this is our ‘bubble’ so the kids are not masked. We are lucky that one daycare family lives one street away and because the kids are already together all day, we are comfortable even with indoor playdates with them – they will be our saving grace through the winter! After much (near-crippling) guilt about using daycare this spring, I now am viewing it as a blessing (allowing me to still work full time) and have chosen to embrace the fact that ours is small and hopefully lower-risk.

    I started using curbside grocery pickup before the pandemic and continue now. I run to Target ~2ish times a month, have been to a few doctor’s appointments, and run the occasional errand (all masked). I WFH 100% right now, though my husband goes in a few days a week for meetings that must be done in secure areas. We are only seeing my parents outdoors and I try to have my older kiddo wear a mask if I think he’s getting too close. It gives me hives to think about dining indoors with others right now – and even outdoors, depending on the situation! At this point, our mid-Atlantic fall weather is cool enough that outdoor time involves running around but it would be chilly to stop and eat outside so…not something I have to worry about avoiding.

    I do run with 2-3 other people 3-4 days a week. We don’t run with masks, which is controversial. But my small running group is responsible with informing everyone about possible exposures, symptoms in themselves and their children, etc. We’ve had a few people run alone for a week or two based on these things, but none of us have actually been sick (knock on wood) and I don’t see this type of activity as one that has shown to have a high risk of transmission. This is an example where I’m weighing my sanity vs. infection risk and right now my sanity is winning.

    • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger November 17, 2020 at 10:55 am

      totally get the sanity vs infection risk calculation!

  • Reply Nanette November 17, 2020 at 10:42 am

    I appreciate this post so much and I also am so interested to read all the comments and hear how others are making their way through this time. We are in New Jersey where numbers are quickly rising as well. My children attend half day public school where they seem to be doing a great job keeping up with distancing, masks, symptoms checks, etc. We are only doing outdoor masked playdates and its pretty concrete that when we are outside of our homes, we are wearing masks. However… the only exception to this is that I do run outside by myself and I do not wear a mask then.

    • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger November 17, 2020 at 10:54 am

      I guess I should have clarified that – I also run outside without a mask. I do not get anywhere near anyone during those runs and it’s usually when no one in our neighborhood is even awake, so I do not believe there is significant risk.

    • Reply Anna November 17, 2020 at 11:02 am

      I run with a mask on only bc it’s NYC and densely populated with outdoor dining on every block. So I would encounter lots of unmasked ppl. It’s for the risk of getting coughed on by an unmasked person w covid— rare risk but def a risk here. I honestly don’t mind it now that it’s chillier. I wouldn’t run w a mask if l could avoid others though.

      • Reply KGC November 17, 2020 at 11:07 am

        @Anna: I would also probably try to wear a mask running in your situation; we rarely encounter other people while out running in my suburb here…and it’s safer to run in a (small) group – I was running solo in the summer at 5 or 5:30am but then there were a few cutting incidents around, including an attack on an 80-year-old woman at 6:30am. I haven’t run alone since then, for safety. But I love your point about it being chillier – it does help keep my face warmer!!! I wear one to pick my kids up from daycare, and I definitely now keep it on for our walk home because it guards against wind =)

        • Reply Anna November 17, 2020 at 11:26 am

          Ah yes, its very safe here bc there are ppl in every nook and cranny. I totally get sketched out with running alone so I definitely understand running with a small group.

      • Reply ptrish12 November 17, 2020 at 9:49 pm

        Also a big city dweller (midwest), and I also definitely wear a mask when walking / running / cycling because of the crowding. I’d say only about 75% of walkers, 50% of runners, and even fewer cyclists wear them on the multi-use paths here, though. Now I try to only run during less busy times because I’m not comfortable with being near unmasked people who are breathing heavily.

        I spent a month with my folks in the suburbs and it was nice to be able to just…go for a run! No mask, no dodging people, just quiet time outside.

  • Reply LDMN November 17, 2020 at 11:06 am

    I am in MN, where it is SCARY. The last test positivity rate I was was north of 13%. Our hospitals are full, and many hospitals are grappling with staff outbreaks and exposures. Our Governor has started to (barely) increase restrictions, but I don’t think he’s doing enough. My children are at home 100% (their schools are fully distance) and we have a like-minded nanny come in 5 hours each weekday. My parents live 20 minutes away, and we were thinking they could come here for Thanksgiving, but now the Department of Health is asking households not to mix. (To be clear — both of our households are cautious.) I’m making a point to not go inside stores (even though retail transmission is low). My kids are LONELY and it is hard. It’s really really hard. I want to acknowledge that I have it so much easier than SO many people and I try to keep that in mind. We have a two parent household, both can work from home, some outside help, we don’t have to worry about housing or food (which I think NO ONE should have to worry about), and we’re all relatively healthy. But mentally… it feels like COVID is closing in and that’s scary. I’m worried about the healthcare workers.

  • Reply Sara November 17, 2020 at 11:59 am

    This is all so hard. I’ve been in a panic recently realizing we could very easily go back to a lockdown situation and all the resulting terrible things like refreshing our screen constantly in a desperate hope for a grocery pick up slot without the site crashing 😣 And, of course, the larger scale public health challenges are extremely worrisome.

  • Reply Lisa November 17, 2020 at 12:29 pm

    I’m also in MN where things are getting very bad – right in time for my delivery. 🙁 I thought this peak would come after Thanksgiving, not before, so I hate to think what our numbers will look like in December/January. The state is revising guidelines around Thanksgiving from < 10 people from 3 or fewer families to just your immediate family. I fear compliance with this will be low (my family is still gathering – we won't be going). I WFH 100% of the time, my husband goes in 2-4 days/week but has an office where he can close his door and they wear masks in the common area – but very very few people are coming to work – maybe 5/day in an office that could house 40+. He does all of our errands and grocery shopping, etc, with a mask. Our toddler goes to daycare but they do not require masks. I have ordered multiple kinds of masks and can not get him to wear one – I am going to keep trying but he is a very stubborn little guy. So he does not go to any indoor places besides school/home/doctor appts. We go to playgrounds, although those days are probably done since it's getting so cold/snowy here. We will do playdates with our best friends whose kids go to the same daycare. They are making similar decisions to us and their youngest is in our son's room at school so we figure we are in the same immunity bubble. I go for walks and do not wear a mask but I barely see anyone and if I do, I will cross the street/move way out of the way. We will only do take out – outdoor dining wasn't worth the risk for us this summer.

    I'm fatigued by all of this, but it feels more doable now that a vaccine is on the horizon. Who knows how long it will take for us to get vaccinated, but at least healthcare workers and the more vulnerable populations will get the vaccine soon. I assume I will get it before my husband and son since I'm immune compromised due to RA meds, but I'm thinking maybe Q3? I know the vaccine won't end the risk of covid completely but it will be a huge step in the right direction towards more of a sense of normalcy. Covid has been a major area of stress during this pregnancy, especially since my siblings/parents have a different view of the risks it presents. But I try to remind myself that we are very lucky – we still have our health and our jobs.

  • Reply Annie November 17, 2020 at 12:52 pm

    My area in CA recently went to a more restrictive level and it interestingly made zero impact on my family’s situation because we weren’t doing any of those things (restaurants, gyms, movies, etc). We’ve had a few friends ask to get together and we say we’re keeping our bubble small–they say same for them BUT their version of small is drastically different than ours. Small to us means basically just us, plus essential shopping/medical appts. Maybe one masked outdoor play date every few weeks. Whereas they have their kids physically in school, including after care plus 1-2 team sports for each kid, seeing neighbors and grandparents, exercise with others plus working on site. So yeah no, that is not keeping a small bubble!

    We also live far from family and aren’t used to making a big deal about Thanksgiving or Christmas. So it blows my mind that having a quiet holiday at home with just immediate family seems impossible for many people.

    The shock at the news coming out of the Dakotas about nurses continuing to work while positive is a bit confusing. This has been the policy at my husband’s hospital since May. Positive with symptoms or without means healthcare workers keep working.

    • Reply CBS November 17, 2020 at 1:46 pm

      Yes, we’re moving from tier 3 restrictions to tier 2 as cases are quite low in our part of Scotland and we went to look at what we “could do” and honestly, nothing new. I have no intention of eating in an indoor restaurant anytime soon or spending time inside someone’s house.

    • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger November 17, 2020 at 4:01 pm

      oh very interesting! Nurses and other health care staff (doctors, RT, other staff) who test positive here are not allowed to work until a certain number of days after the test (I think it’s 10?) and 72 hours symptom free.

    • Reply Christen November 18, 2020 at 3:26 am

      This is so interesting to me, too! I’m a volunteer EMT with the Red Cross in Italy, and at our branch they’ve recently decided that the paid/professional EMTs who have had Covid and are now mostly recovered will be able to come back 21 days after they first tested positive, even if they are still testing positive… and pretty much everyone is up in arms about it. I wonder what they’d say if I told them that in California it has been that way all along! (Personally, I don’t feel informed enough on the topic to be either up in arms or anything else about it… our medical director seems like a very wise and experienced physician, so I have faith in her… but I also can see why there’s a lot of pressure to send people back to work, because we are barely managing to cover the ambulance service at the moment, so I can’t 100% mentally rule out the possibility that they might be making this decision more out of necessity than anything else)

      PS Re masks… we don’t have enough N95s to go around either, even for when we are in contact with known covid+ patients, so we’ve each been issued two and told to rotate them, so we wear the same one for a whole shift, cover it with a surgical mask when we’re handling a confirmed positive patient (we can throw those out after each patient, at least for how), and then (theoretically) put it in a paper bag or out in the sun for 72 hours after our shift. (I say theoretically because lots of people do more than two shifts during a 72-hour period, so then who knows). I don’t think it’s ideal, but… we also just literally don’t have any more of them to go around. Really highlights how dependent we are on supply chains that usually just operate invisibly in our lives — I’ve never given a thought to where most stuff comes from in my life, but all of a sudden we’re all laser-focused on who makes these masks and how much they cost and where we could get them and should we even get them or should we leave them for the actual medical professionals, etc. Anyway, I find it really interesting to hear how these things are being handled back home in the US and all different places!

  • Reply Jordan November 17, 2020 at 4:40 pm

    This is so interesting to read, thanks for posting about this. We got the latest issue of High Five magazine for my kids and my 4 year old pointed out that everyone is wearing masks. There’s also a rhyme about hand washing. I think I’ll need to save it to show my grandkids someday. Such a crazy time.

    I’m in Colorado which had been doing really well with our numbers….until now things are out of control. Positivity rates around 12% and hospitalizations way up. My kids (2 and 4) are in part time preschool (4 year old is masked) and have been since June, but we’ve been keeping them home the past couple of weeks and through Thanksgiving so we can see my parents who live locally. Yesterday we got a notification that there’s a teacher at school with symptoms who is awaiting test results, so I’m glad they’re home, but it makes me anxious for the rest of the winter. Other than that, we work from home, limit social gathering to outdoors/masked/distanced (luckily we’ve been having gorgeous weather so can still see some friends for hikes on the weekends), do grocery delivery, limit errands, etc.

    We also have a part time nanny who also works at Orangetheory (indoor fitness class). I am SO anxious about our exposure risk with her. Everything I read sounds like gyms are the worst. She always wears a mask in the studio and otherwise takes precautions and lives alone, but it seems like a huge risk.

    Question for SHU/others with nannies – do you ask them to wear a mask in your home? We haven’t but now with the #s way up I’m considering it.

    • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger November 17, 2020 at 5:12 pm

      Nope, our nanny doesn’t do much differently than we do, so I consider her part of our ‘pod’. If she chose to wear a mask she absolutely could (to protect herself from us!) but I am not worried about getting something from her.

  • Reply rose November 17, 2020 at 5:23 pm

    Thank you. Living very isolated life. I am very much a senior. Missing my family dreadfully while being clear that is the wise thing for them and me. I believe the virus is real, that it causes long term damage for more people than we like to admit and more than we really understand today. I knew people who died from it.
    I find the cavalier statements and refusal to help at federal levels of our government to be incomprehensible in a nation that always used to take pride in helping neighbors and relied on neighbors locally, nationally and internationally.
    It is helpful to hear how other people and families are coping in different situations and climates. This is being appalling hard on so very many people. I wish I thought vaccines would be distributed with fairness, and equality … but I fear rich & connections will happen instead … as has happened with testing.

    • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger November 18, 2020 at 5:42 am

      So hard. Thank you for sharing and I too hope that the vaccine can be given in a fair manner – especially to those at high risk! I hope production can be ramped up quickly.

  • Reply Angie November 17, 2020 at 7:12 pm

    I’m in Utah which has handled this horribly, and our positive testing rate is over 20%, that it’s really making us think do we want to stay here? I’ve now lost 2 family members, back in the Midwest, and other family friends and I’m so upset how people here are fighting just wearing a mask and not having large family gatherings. We kept our kids home for virtual school since I was a teacher and can handle it and our district isn’t doing enough to make us feel comfortable. My oldest has anxiety and doesn’t like wearing a mask so I’m not going to force him but we are talking it up and practicing so hopefully we can send them back next year because they need the interaction. We have some safe families here but the parent is in the medical field and they get exposed and we wait and since it’s starting to get winter here we don’t feel ok going into people’s houses. We did decide to get our ski passes but they are requiring masks, social distancing, reservations, and only riding lifts with your party. We need to do something in the winter. I do have a doctor friend in the Moderna trial and after talking to her several times I am feeling better about the vaccine.

    • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger November 18, 2020 at 5:41 am

      I’m so sorry about your family members. Skiing sounds like it will be a good respite.

  • Reply Ali November 17, 2020 at 7:13 pm

    We are making most of the same choices. I work from home but my husband has to work in person (but fully masked). Kids are going to school (distanced, in masks). My kids going to school in person is a risk I will willingly take as long as schools are in person (likely not much longer). I basically only leave the house for a run (not coming in contact with anyone) or the occasional in person grocery trip (mostly we do curbside). It is SO frustrating to see many continue life as normal right now when things in my area are bad and worsening by the day.

    • Reply Ali November 17, 2020 at 7:15 pm

      Ps-/if anyone wants to feel anxious for me…I am SO anxious about a family wedding we have scheduled in December (so irresponsibly IMO). There’s a buffet! A buffet! And it’s only “feel free to wear a mask if you want.” Aaggggghhhhh.

      • Reply ptrish12 November 17, 2020 at 9:53 pm

        feeling similarly anxious about our extended family, who are still having ~12 people from 4 households for Thanksgiving. We’re skipping, but I’m worried about them! This is all so so hard!

      • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger November 18, 2020 at 5:39 am

        oh my goodness. I cannot imagine a wedding right now.

        • Reply Joy November 18, 2020 at 6:32 am

          My son got married last month. It was tiny, in a huge place so lots of room to spread out, and everyone wore masks except when they were up front for the ceremony. Reception was snack bags at tables for two 8 feet apart plus cake and beverages in cans. No buffet. No dancing. It’s doable if not ideal. We were all vigilant and no one got sick. A friend of mine’s daughter also got married last month under similar restrictions. No one got sick. The kids are all still getting married but adjusting for the circumstances.

  • Reply Sara B. November 17, 2020 at 7:48 pm

    Thank you for sharing what you’re doing. I like your approach, and it’s interesting because most people I know (most of whom are in healthcare where they see CoVID patients often) take an almost all-or-nothing approach. Those with kids in school also have them multiple sports, host birthday parties, watch each others kids, etc. More restrictive families with kids at home for school are doing practically nothing. We fall into the latter camp but my 2 year-old managed to get 2 febrile illnesses in 10 days, and it was stressful. Not CoVID, but it’s hard not to question everything after that. (More restrictive? Less restrictive because it’s not working anyway? Ugh.) I keep telling myself “it’s just a season” but it’s been a dreadfully long season, and I’m sure it’s about to get worse here (FL).

    Also, my hospital’s policy has been N-95s for patients with high-risk for aerosolization (intubation/bipap/nebs/etc) only; surgical masks with eyewear and contact precautions for all other CoVID patients, and universal masking. I’m weirdly comfortable with it – I guess experience is a teacher good or bad – I know of no one who thinks they got CoVID from a patient under these precautions and we see decent numbers of PUIs and positives. I’m sure it aerosolizes commonly, maybe not in the same way/to the same extent as other aerosol viruses? We have elastomeric respirators that are fairly difficult to work in rather than N-95s.

  • Reply Erin R November 17, 2020 at 10:13 pm

    This is really interesting! Like a few other commenters I’m in MN and it’s definitely bad here.

    I feel really lucky to be able to be as isolated as we are – both parents can WFH 100% of the time, and both have some amount of control over our schedules. We have 3 kids, 5, 8 and 10 and they are doing full-time distance learning. Our school did open for hybrid but it only ended up being 3 weeks before they closed again so I’m really glad we made the choice to just keep them all home although it really does suck to do distance learning with a kindergartener. Oh well, at least he’s happy (most of the time) to do his school, just needs about 2-3 hours of time with an adult each day so we try to split that up around meetings.

    During the summer when cases were lower, we DID do a few more risky things – play outside with neighbor kids without masks, each went on a weekend away with friends after testing, a few cabin weekends, and a few VERY distanced patio restaurants if I felt they were being careful enough (so, like 3 places total). It felt like we could tolerate that risk because we had NO childcare or group sport risks.

    Since school started, we did have one family (also doing distance learning and both parents WFH) where we allowed indoor play but now not doing that. Outside masked playdates with other kids.

    3 of our siblings families all currently have covid. 2 were from exposures at daycare (ironically enough my sister works with covid patients every day as a physical therapist and got covid from her daughter’s daycare). Thankfully SO FAR the cases I know of are mild but still trying our hardest to avoid it.

    For the next at least 3-4 weeks, we plan to just be at home, with only our family – not even sure I’m ok with masked outdoor playdates with the way covid is running through our community right now. I do curbside pickup most places but generally am fine with quick retail trips because everyone is masked. It’s rough, especially for the kids, but it’s what needs to happen.

  • Reply Morgan November 17, 2020 at 11:08 pm

    The whole- MASKS! Unless you want to socialize while eating because that is worth throwing away all your other efforts???? Is crazy to me and my family doesn’t get it and my mother seems incapable of hosting people (even outside) without serving food, so we don’t go there as much, and she just doesn’t get it. I mean absolutely don’t starve and support local restaurants with takeout or delivery orders but this giant loophole? No?!?!? Why do I feel like a crazy person about it?

  • Reply Joy November 18, 2020 at 6:45 am

    It must be so hard to know what to do with children. It sounds like you are being wise.

    I work at our local library, which is open to the public now. We are masked and gloved the whole time. I only go in 2-3 days a week and rarely go out otherwise. My husband cares for his elderly parents along with his brother and sister so our households already mingle and we’re all very careful for his parents’ sake. My husband got his annual cold this week and immediately went for a COVID test. Negative, thankfully.

    We do curbside pickup or delivery for all our shopping. My son attends the local university and while there were some in person classes, his classes chose to remain virtual. The university community, including the students, really worked to keep up good restrictions and there were only some random cases over the semester. It was impressive, frankly, to see how responsible these young people were to keep themselves and the community safe. My son hasn’t been to campus in weeks, which isn’t ideal and I’m concerned for his lack of interaction with peers, but he seems to be taking it in stride.

    We are still “going to church” via livestream.

    Even before our governor increased restrictions, our family did not intend to do anything more risky. We have too many people dependent on us. Also, I can’t work if I’ve been exposed and don’t want to let the library down or the community I serve.

    I love how respectful and kind your commenters are, Sarah. This is a good part of the internet to hang out in.

  • Reply S. November 18, 2020 at 7:02 am

    I’m a teacher and working remotely for now but I do go into my building every so often to get something and then end up staying for the day or a half day. Luckily there aren’t many people there now (most are teaching from home) so not many interactions. I’m in a bigger urban apt building and wear a mask literally every time I step out my door, even to get the mail. I also wear a mask on bike rides and walks. I’ve been grocery shopping this whole time because I CAN (no kids, I have a car, easy to get there) and wanted to save the delivery slots for people who need them… plus, I don’t think it’s necessarily better to send someone in on my behalf to shop (again, I don’t need that assistance), in terms of exposing store employees? Over the summer my partner and I did creep back to going together to the grocery store when numbers were super low but we’ve now gone back to having one of us go in alone. Also, personally I prefer Trader Joe’s, which limits the amount of people inside, sanitizes carts, etc. I’ve been inside non-pharmacy/grocery stores less than five times since March but do curbside pickups at places like my local bookstore. I occasionally see friends but always outside — a walk, distanced picnic in a park, etc. Some friends are having an outdoor Thanksgiving celebration but I’ve opted to stay in with my partner because I just don’t think it’s necessary and even being outside doesn’t feel right. (When we do eat outside around people, it’s always BYO/takeout and then planting chairs down faaaar apart from each other… this would be sharing food.)

  • Reply Amy November 18, 2020 at 7:03 am

    We are in VA where numbers are rising (like everywhere else) but not totally crazy. We are definitely dialing it back which has been disappointing to have to do. My kids are in school in person full time (masked — I hate having to clarify this all the time, of course we wear masks to the school, to the store, etc), my husband and I both work on site a few days a week. My daughter takes ballet once a week and in January my son starts outdoor basketball (masked, in the cold it won’t be so bad!). We still have a pod with my sisters and my dad and that is absolutely not changing no matter what the case numbers do. Other people might make different decisions but our time with loved ones is not infinite — if we are all taking the same precautions, I am willing to take the risk. We isolated from each other in the spring but are not going to do it again, and I hate that this has become what seems to be a moral issue for some people who can’t understand why anyone would choose otherwise — it’s so frustrating. We were hoping to travel to PA to see my husband’s family for Thanksgiving but with five other households and a shared meal, we’ve decided to call it off. If we can go over Christmas with enough time for the kids to isolate before school starts back up, we may do that.

    We are not going to museums, dining indoors (or with anyone outside our “pod”), or having indoor playdates anymore. We’ve been more relaxed than others because we’re so aware of the long-term costs of indefinite isolation, but it’s definitely time to dial it in again. SIGH.

    • Reply Brittany November 18, 2020 at 7:43 am

      I appreciate what Amy said about our time with loved ones not being infinite. My dad passed away in May (not covid related) and if we would have followed the advice to not go anywhere or see anyone, I would have missed out on the last three months of my dad’s life. Of course we were careful and we isolated before seeing him, but I would have never forgiven myself if fear would have held me back from some of the most precious and last conversations and memories I’ll ever have with him.

      I struggle daily with choosing what to do and not to do while weighing risks of physical health, mental health, and the judgement it seems so many are ready to dish out to those that think or act differently. We homeschool (did before the pandemic, too) and now that soccer is over, we don’t have any activities, so we are fairly isolated, but my husband works in the hospitals. I assume we will be exposed at some point, so I’m trying to accept that, keep our health as strong as possible, and keep living the best way we can.

      • Reply Amy November 19, 2020 at 7:14 am

        Thank you, Brittany, and I’m so sorry for your loss. I’m glad you were with him in those final months! My choices here are informed by my own loss of my mom nine years ago. Like you, I would never forgive myself if something happened to my dad or one of my sisters and we had been isolating from one another out of fear of Covid. Of course there are risks — I feel like it’s hard to talk about these things without including a million and one caveats — but this is a no-brainer to me. Some risks are absolutely worth taking.

        • Reply Brittany November 19, 2020 at 7:55 am

          I’m so sorry you lost your mom. I’m learning that no matter how much time goes by, there is always that gap in our hearts. <3 And I agree that while we have to be smart about our choices, that there has never been such thing as completely risk free living and we must go on weighing our risks versus rewards as carefully as we can.

    • Reply Anna November 18, 2020 at 8:29 am

      Thank you, Amy. We are, as all are here, being cautious and responsible. But I agree 100% that the goal is to balance risks and to *minimize* risk. Eliminating risk is, in my opinion, not possible (particularly as we round the corner into a year of this craziness). So, when deciding to send our son to college and or my husband to work, the question is how can we make that possible (i.e. taking some risk) while being careful (masked, distanced, sanitized) in order to minimize the risk. I also agree that our mental health must be taken into account. That is not to say I’m dancing in a bar every night. But some – limited, distanced – social contact is necessary.

      • Reply Amy November 19, 2020 at 7:18 am

        Thank you, Anna, and yes — we are seeking to minimize risk where possible, not eliminate it entirely. That’s one reason we send our kids to school in person, for one thing. It’s incredibly frustrating to talk about these choices when people want to assume that by taking on *some* level of risk, you’re being careless and irresponsible. We’re not — I just take very seriously the long-term costs associated with ongoing isolation. It’s every bit as unhealthy as Covid in some ways and will have some very long-lasting repercussions.

  • Reply Natka November 18, 2020 at 11:16 am

    We are in PA, suburbs on Philly. We are definitely on the super-cautious side of the spectrum. My husband and I are both working from home. Our 3 kids (12, 10, and 6) are doing virtual school, although our school district is open (for now) in hybrid mode.

    Not doing:
    No organized sports, we feel it’s way too risky even if its outside, and not worth it. My kids really miss soccer and gymnastics but it will just have to wait.

    We don’t do any indoor or outdoor restaurant dining – but we weren’t too much into it before the pandemic, either.

    We don’t have cleaning service any more (Kids clean parts of the house for their chores… certain things, like bathrooms, they get payed for. My husband and I do some cleaning here and there as needed… but I am looking forward to going back to fully outsourcing cleaning again)

    We will not be doing big holiday meals with extended family this year.

    We don’t have or attend any parties… No large extended family get-togethers… No air travel… No travel if it requires more than 3 h driving… No religious gatherings (kids are doing virtual Hebrew + virtual Hebrew lessons)

    * We try to get exercise as a family – my husband takes our 12-year old running and biking with him, we go on walks, do backyard family soccer games, badminton, and basketball in the driveway.

    * My daughters have in-person piano lessons at their teachers house (masked, distanced form the teacher who has lots of space and uses both a piano for the student and a keyboard for herself if she needs to demonstrate something) – but we are considering switching them to virtual piano lessons because cases are skyrocketing. My son has virtual violin lessons – not ideal, but he is doing fine.

    * We do weekly food shopping (masked) for ourselves and my parents.
    * We do medical visits, dentist, and required surgeries (I had to have breast surgery a month ago – not fun but it wasn’t something that could have been skipped or delayed, unfortunately). Risks of long-term health problems and cancer outweigh risks of covid, so some medical procedures, follow-up and preventative stuff are necessary. That said – depending on case numbers, I may postpone kids well-visit that’s scheduled in Dec and my dentist visit in January… .

    * We get together with close family outside (no masks with my parents who live nearby and are in our “pod” – although that may have to change; we wore masks when we had a small outdoor get-together with my husband’s close family in rural PA).
    * For Thanksgiving, we will have my parents over and we will have a meal outside – we have an outdoor fire ring and a wood stove and enough space to spread out. We will have a separate table set up for them near a heat source!

    * We’ve gone hiking and biking (without masks unless there are lots of other people… but we tried to avoid popular trails).
    * We sometimes (rarely) get together with a couple of friends or sister-in-law family – outside, masked, in a big park or in a large back yard.
    * During the summer we traveled in-state (drove about 2.5 h) and rented a house in a very remote sparsely populated area… then went on hikes, fishing, biking. That was our summer vacation and it was awesome! I would be OK doing something like that this winter, too. Renting a rustic cabin in the middle of nowhere sounds pretty much perfect 🙂

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