(NEW YORK) — Nearly eight months into the pandemic lockdown, most of us have accepted that life isn’t returning to normal anytime soon. But that doesn’t mean you have to wait for a COVID-19 vaccine to socialize face-to-face with your friends again.
Maybe it’s time you formed a ‘pandemic pod.’
The Washington Post has a good explainer. Essentially, a pandemic pod — or ‘quaranteam,’ if you like — is a limited group of friends and/or family members with whom you exclusively socialize in person. The vitally important part is that all of your pod members also agree to only socialize in person with the pod. They also must agree to adhere to a strict set of rules and behaviors to limit their chance of exposure to COVID-19, in turn minimizing the chance of infecting the other pod members.
Put simply: “The most important thing in my mind is just trying to think about who are those individuals who I trust with my safety and they would trust me with theirs,” says Mayo Clinic infectious disease specialist John O’Horo. “Don’t be afraid to be selfish when you’re thinking about that. The people who you might consider your good friends aren’t necessarily the people who you would trust in this situation.”
That means all potential pod members have to agree to in-depth, regular questioning about their behaviors, and to alert other pod members should a subsequent behavior or incident put other pod members at risk.
Another important pod point: keep it small. The fewer members, the lower the infection risk. Be ready to regularly reassess your rules, and your members, a circumstances warrant. And have a plan of action ready should someone test positive.
A pain in the butt? Maybe. But what about the pandemic isn’t?
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