Life: Pandemic Friendship Management

I live in a city & county that’s doing very well in keeping COVID-19 infections low. However, there’s still no effective treatment or cure for this particular coronavirus, and with many vulnerable loved ones around, I’d like to keep it that way.

Caution is an easy decision for some of us with elderly relatives and/or parents or friends who are cancer survivors. We stick to essentials. Even if we aren’t seeing our at-risk loved ones, we stay ready to in case they need us. Easy peasy.

Most of my friends are cautious in a way that’s similar to me. We chat by phone, text, or video, but I haven’t seen most of them in person, and they understand why. The few I HAVE seen for outdoor activities have been restricting their exposure to a small number of immediate family, who are similarly cautious. We met outdoors and wore masks. One of them even has a plan for family emergencies cross-country which involves a quarantine-like solo, cross-country drive with plenty of supplies, one cautious, overnight stop, and every other type of disinfecting precaution on an ongoing basis to remain ready.

And then there are my other friends and coworkers. The ones who fly on planes for recreational trips twice a month, and go out to places with few health restrictions so they can have fun. The ones who say they HAD to go to a packed, popular place in another state, because someone in their immediate family was BORED.

The friends I thought of when I read this parody at McSweeney’s Internet Tendency:

Another Dull Quarantine Weekend at Home, Target, Chipotle, Home Depot, and Our Niece’s Graduation Party

I can’t believe how careless people are being about this virus. At our house, we have been taking the strictest precautions since March. We stay inside all the time and never go anywhere. When we do go somewhere, we always bring masks, except when we won’t need them.

I love them dearly, but I will not see them in person, because they are taking risks that I don’t want to share.

Yes, I do have my friends ranked by risk now. I’ve seen who wears a mask correctly, and who has to be told to put it on (which is never a good sign in an adult). I know who goes into the office because they must, and who goes in because they want to. My friends who work in laboratories and clean rooms earn high esteem for taking cleaning procedures seriously at a professional level! 🙂

When more businesses and public spaces are open, I intend to follow a host of new social rules. If I am hosting a picnic, for example, I should disclose all attendees, the safety precautions we will agree on in advance, and any known risks. If someone has just come back from a wedding overseas, they can’t attend until after their quarantine period is up, for example (obvious, but still). No surprise guests, ever. Full disclosures of all relevant information about public exposures BEFORE anyone turns up.

Safe pandemic socializing is possible, it just requires people to be more considerate of the risk tolerance of their friends, and I think most of my friends are very thoughtful. And I’ve got a list of the ones that just don’t match my risk tolerance! (None of this was on my 2020 bingo card….)

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