With fall approaching, should I shrink my "quarantine bubble"? – The Village Doctor

With fall approaching, should I shrink my “quarantine bubble”?

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If you’ve been branching out over the summer, it might be time to start closing your social circle.

In some parts of the country, where coronavirus transmission has waned a bit, small gatherings, backyard barbeques, get togethers, and outdoor dining have become more commonplace.

Experts, however, are worried that an autumn confluence of events will result in a surge in COVID cases.  Influenza season is returning, kids in many parts of the country are going back to in-person classes, many college students are returning to their schools all across the country, and it will get cooler and more likely for gatherings to be held indoors where transmission risk increases.

Added to all of this, people are feeling worn down by pandemic fatigue: after more than six months of restrictions and rules, many people are eager to move on with their lives, especially in those areas where the virus has receded. 

If you do decide to gather, do all you can to make sure it’s safe and follow basic guidelines.  Dr. Bonnie Maldonado, Professor of Pediatrics (Infectious Diseases) at Stanford Children’s Health has some advice.  “This is a time when we all want to see our family and friends, and we can still do that, but I think we just have to be very cautious about how and when and how many.”  She recommends only meeting in a “small group” where you know what other interactions people have had, and advises hand-washing and masking as much as possible.  Outdoor gatherings are usually safer, but if you must meet indoors, make sure to open windows or doors for increased airflow and better ventilation.

(Sky Pittson, MD, September 24, 2020)