Quarantine Pods: Your isolation doesn't have to be complete

This is either a brilliant idea or a recipe for disaster:

One idea that some families are considering — and that infectious disease epidemiologists think might be a smart way to balance mental health needs with physical safety — is to create quarantine “pods” or “bubbles,” in which two or three families agree to socialize with one another but no one else. In a pod, families hang out together, often without regard to social distancing — but outside of the pod, they follow recommended social distancing rules.

I will freely admit, I only clicked on this article because of the odd name. I've never been one to explore trendy lifestyle changes, or self-help guru advice, and if Marie Kondo tried to pack up my books, she would be escorted out of my house somewhat rudely. But we're all living this quarantine nightmare right now, and some form of social adaptation is going to be necessary. But before you pick up the phone and call your favorite family, explore these recommendations:

If you think your family needs a pod, you’ll first want to ponder whom to approach. To minimize your risk for catching and spreading Covid-19, you’ll want to find a family that is being as careful as you are — a family that is mostly staying home, wearing face coverings when they go out in public, and not otherwise socializing in person.

“If the other household is already caring for their neighbor and playing occasionally with their cousins, then there are a number of ways an infections chain could start,” said Stefan Flasche, Ph.D., an infectious disease epidemiologist at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. The idea is to create a closed loop — each family in the pod does not have contact with people outside the pod.

Ideally, you’ll want to find a family that has a low risk of complications from the coronavirus. Or, for higher-risk families, make sure they understand and are comfortable with the additional risk that the pod would create. If a family has grandparents living in the house or a child or parent with a medical condition that puts them at high risk, take extra precautions and reduce your own potential exposure to the coronavirus to keep them safe. Maybe agree to only go into stores once a week rather than every few days.

It’s also crucial that you choose a family whose judgment you trust. Families are inevitably going to encounter risky situations, and you want to be able to trust that they will make smart decisions, Dr. McLaren said. Likewise, you’ll want to pod with a family that will be transparent and open about what they encounter and experience. If someone sneezes on a member of your pod at the grocery store, you’ll want that pod member to tell you about it so that you can all discuss next steps.

Hoo, boy. It's hard enough to trust the judgment of your own family members, and expecting that other family to 'fess up when they screw up is borderline fantasy. Especially when that confession leads to a two-week time-out:

If you decide to move forward with a pod, set some firm ground rules. What kinds of activities are OK, and what’s off-limits? What might constitute a “breach” in the pod (such as a trip to the doctor’s or dentist’s office)? “The more communication you have upfront about the various scenarios and how they might play out, the easier it’ll be to navigate those situations as they arise,” Dr. Marcus said. If there is a breach, you can always pause the pod for two weeks while the exposed family quarantines.

I just got to hold my Grandson (and hug my daughter) for the first time since the lockdown began, and to say it was cathartic would be a gross understatement. But she is returning to work in two weeks when her daycare reopens, and how would that affect her family's status if they were podded with another family (or two)? You can't keep 1-2 year-olds separated from each other, they touch everything. And try to put most of those things into their mouths. Major vector for disease, including Corona.

So these pods are probably not possible (or wise) for many families, but that doesn't mean other similar approaches aren't worth looking at.

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