Depending on where you live, you may still be looking at quarantine for a while. But, in some places, restrictions are already being lifted. Although my kids are done with school for the year, if my district was to make a decision to resume, I’m not sure I would have allowed my kids to return. It begs the question: Even if my state lifts restrictions, how and when will my family get back to day-to-day life?
I’m sure life will look very different after quarantine and we won’t go back to “normal” – at least not right away. The thought of leaving quarantine makes me anxious. The idea that anyone in my family could get sick makes me emotional. So, I have been closely watching the scientific information coming out so that I can take a rational, educated approach to resuming life – whenever that may be.
I thought it might be helpful to share some of the things that I will be considering when my state opens up and my teenager asks, “Mom, can I go…..”
- Keep An Eye On Things Locally: Follow your state and local health department website. They post data that will apply to things where you live. Most have email and text opt-in. I have opted into other states to stay on top of what is going on nationally.
- Follow Your Local Hospital: Hospitals are doing a great job posting data about open beds, how many people have been admitted, and other important information. If you or a family member does get sick, you want to know that the hospital you would rely on has the resources to treat you.
- Watch Access To Supplies: Some areas are experiencing shortages in protective equipment, ventilators, and medication. Before we have a vaccine, our society will have to rely on social distancing, medical treatment, and medications. Hospitals and health departments are posting inventory of these things.
- Testing Those Who Are Sick: This helps track the rate of infection so if we aren’t getting adequate testing, we don’t know the incidence and prevalence in our community. As long as there is a shortage in testing, we don’t have a true picture of what is going on. As testing ramps up, I will become more confident in the validity of the published rates in my community. You can find out where testing stands by listening to public officials and Governors during their press conferences. You can also go online and get this with a little research.
- Testing Those Who May Have Already Had It: This is known as antibody testing. It’s early for this in the U.S. but many countries in Europe are now able to identify who already had the virus – even those who never had symptoms.
- Consider Your Health Status: If you have underlying health conditions, I would proceed with extreme caution. The CDC has begun to develop a list of underlying conditions that are putting people at higher risk of severe illness from COVID 19. These populations should be some of the last to re-enter society and should wait as long as possible. If you are a caretaker, you need to be careful too. I am dying to see my mom (who is 87) but I know it’s risky to see her if I have been out in society. (Remember, if you haven’t been tested, you could be carrying COVID 19 without knowing it. See #4.)
- Prevent Risk: You need to think about whether the place you are going is high or low risk. How many people will be there and in what kind of proximity will they be? How clean is it and will there be distancing that will lower your risk of contact with another person. Is there access to hand washing and hand sanitizer? Will there be anything shared among those who are there? Have those people been taking things seriously and practicing these habits? The CDC has a nice “protect yourself” handout.
- Mental health: The COVID 19 situation has taken a toll on everyone. There is a true balancing act here. The range of human experience is vast and some people may do or engage in some things because they have to or need to. I am going to try to find things that will minimize risk, but still allow my kids to start to engage with friends – which is where they are struggling the most. It won’t be soon, but there will be a day that this will come. It will probably start with only one friend at a time, outside at a park where they aren’t in close proximity. As time goes on and I can wait and watch what things look like (See #1-5 on the list), I will lessen the restrictions. Or, if things aren’t heading in the right direction, I will have to tighten things up for my family again – even if my state doesn’t. There is a “coping with COVID handout” that can be found on the CDC website.
- Reconsider Travel: Since we don’t have a coordinated, national plan to re-open, I will be staying local for the next several months. The rates of infection vary widely from city to city and state to state. Some areas have rates coming down while other areas are going up. I am glad to hear that many states are agreeing to make decisions regionally, but for now, I am going to be enjoying Pure Michigan for quite some time. If you do have to travel, you can check travel restrictions here.
As I said, I realize we are all experiencing this differently and some may not have the luxury of waiting for quarantine to end. This is merely meant to help those who are looking for some help on how to make some of these difficult decisions for their own family.