Coming Over During Covid

Coming Over During Covid

Originally wrote this as a note to friends.

Hanging out in person can be awkward these days. Since you're coming over, here's some of our our beliefs about Covid and what you can expect at our house. We're sharing this is to start a conversation – not to lay out ground rules. We've found it's best not to assume that everyone's on the same page. Let's talk about this stuff up front so that we can get past the Covid induced awkwardness and better enjoy each other's company.

What we believe about Covid-19

It's really bad. It probably won't kill us, but if we catch it, there's a non-trivial chance we'd get sicker than we've ever been, suffer longterm damage, or pass it on to someone else. Also, Rachel's pregnant. We take Covid-19 seriously.

Coronavirus spreads primarily indoors, by breathing the same air with an infected person for a prolonged period of time. So long as no one's sneezing or coughing, we'd need at least 10 minutes in a small, poorly ventilated room with an unmasked asymptomatic carrier to catch the virus.

The risk of surface transmission is low. Despite all the package disinfecting we did back in March and April, there are no documented cases of surface transmission.

The risk of outdoor transmission is low – even when unmasked. Neither protests nor outdoor dining caused a noticeable uptick in outbreaks. Open air seriously impedes transmission. Sunlight is coronavirus kryptonite. The Risks - Know Them - Avoid Them is a great piece on this subject.

It's unlikely that you, or we, currently have it. Since August, New York City's daily positive infection rate has been less than 1%.👏👏👏 (October update: this is trending up in some hotspots, but remains under 2% in most of the city.)

How we act

We've adopted a strategy of risk mitigation, not risk elimination. Here's what we do, and don't do, based on our beliefs about Covid:

  • If we had a cough, sore throat, or fever, we wouldn't hang out with you.
  • We avoid being indoors with other people when we can.
  • We go into stores when we need to, but we don't linger, and we leave if it's crowded or if people are unmasked.
  • When inside in public, we wear masks. My mask protects you, your mask protects me.
  • When outside in public and near other people, we wear masks. But more for social normalization than for fear of transmission.
  • We order takeout often. We occasionally do outdoor dining.
  • We don't wipe down packages or groceries (anymore).
  • We're homeschooling Emma this year.

What you can expect at our place

Here's a bit of what to expect when you come over to our house. Again, offering this to start a conversation, not to declare the house rules. If we're not on the same page, let's talk about it.

We're have an outdoor space where kids can play in the yard while adults hang on the patio.

We'll wear a mask when we greet you at the front door, and when we walk you through the house to the patio. Fist bumps and elbow bumps seem like good greetings these days. We try not to linger inside the house.

We don't wear masks out back. We're generally unconcerned about outdoor transmission. Let's keep some distance – for example, we don't need to sit four to the couch – but so long as we're not breathing into each other's faces, we should be fine. We'll also turn on our industrial-strength fan to improve airflow.

We're comfortable serving you food and drink, and collecting your dirty dishes. We're comfortable sharing a meal (we have a grill), but we've also found that sometimes getting together for a desert and drink after dinner is lower anxiety for everyone. No need to offer to help with meal prep or dishes – we know you would in normal times. No need to bring anything, but we do enjoy pastries.

We've got two bathrooms at our house. One's just inside the patio – y'all can use that one while you're here. We'll use the upstairs one.

Our murkiest judgment call is what to do when Emma has playdates. We typically don't require her to wear a mask when playing outside with friends unless they're spending a lot of time in her clubhouse or having a hard time keeping distance. Kids are at low risk, being outside is low risk. That said, we're cool playing this by ear with you.

On occasion, kiddos find a reason to go inside together to show off a room, get a toy, whatever. In those cases, we'd prefer that they're masked, and that they only stay inside for a few minutes.

Come on over!

So, that's where we're at. Not on the same page? Cool! Let's acknowledge that it's awkward, then talk about it anyway.

It's also important to acknowledge that there aren't a lot of black-and-white answers here. While guidelines are helpful, what feels comfortable one week might not feel right the next. If your spidey sense goes off, it's totally cool to say, "You know what, I'm uncomfortable with ___. Could we ___ instead?"

We're so thankful that you're coming over! It's such a luxury to spend face-to-face time with friends. Hopefully, for a few hours, things can feel normal again.

See you soon!