Monday Monday
Sweet and Sour

Risk Management

Well, folks. Here we go. 

We're all entering this new phase of Pandemic Life . . . the part where we open things up again and go back to "normal."  This seems particularly scary to a lot of us -- because the ongoing risks of the pandemic haven't actually changed.  It's still a very nasty virus that we don't fully understand or know how to treat -- and it can take a lot of unpredictable and frightening twists and turns once it gets into your body. Sure. We do seem to be out of the "acute emergency" stage of it (for now). And I can understand that it's time to make a shift toward developing strategies that allow us to resume some parts of our old lives.

But . . . yikes!  We've got some risks to manage.

I'm feeling pretty lucky to be living in Michigan right now.  We have a tough governor who is standing up to attacks from all sides AND holding the line on a thoughtful and phased-in re-opening process. I feel slightly more confident about the integrity of the process than I might if I lived in . . . well . . . one of those states jumping right in with both feet.

IMG_8924

(My new hat . . . )

I'm paying a lot of attention these days to what public health experts are saying about disease transmission AND I'm listening to their advice about managing personal risks when it comes to the coronavirus. Considering the short period of time this virus has been in the world (remember back to the new year? when none of us had even heard of this thing yet? yeah - short period of time), we've learned a whole lot about what it is, how it seems to transmit, and what it can do.

What we know about transmission:
(Although I've read several articles, this one by Dr. Erin Bromage is the best when it comes to a straightforward explanation.)

  • COVID-19 spreads via droplets which are expelled when infected people cough, sneeze, scream, shout, sing, talk . . . or just breathe.
  • The tricky thing is that people begin to expel droplets full of virus up to 3 days BEFORE they experience any symptoms.  This is particularly bad news in virus-world -- because healthy-feeling people are out there . . . breathing . . . for days before they feel sick enough to stay at home.
  • To get the virus, you need exposure to an infectious dose.  Dr. Bromage's simple formula looks like this:
    Successful Infection = Exposure to virus X Time
  • The longer your exposure to the virus, the more likely you are to become infected.
  • The factors that contribute to virus transmission are:  enclosed environments, poor air circulation, and a high density of people -- and these factors are all boosted by time.
  • The main sources of infection: home, workplace, public transport, social gatherings, restaurants, and indoor sports.

Basically, then . . . we're better off out there if we're:

  • Outside.
  • Around a limited number of people.
  • At a distance.
  • While wearing masks.

All of that . . . doesn't change now.  Even though we've flattened the curve and come out of the woods enough that most states (and a lot of people in them) feel comfortable moving about again.  But like I used to tell my kids as they were growing up:  Just because you CAN, it doesn't mean you SHOULD.

As Michigan opens up, I'm thinking long and hard about how I want to (and whether I want to) move about again.  I'm going to think about what we know about transmission, and I'm going to use that information to manage my own risk.  For the most part, I'll consider the environment -- is it a closed space? are there a lot of people in the space? are they wearing masks? -- and I'm going to ask myself if I really NEED to do this thing/be in this space? or can it wait?  I'm going to pay attention to "the numbers" and the trends in my area. I'm still planning to stay home as much as possible (although we are planning to "double our bubble" with Brian and Lauren). I'll keep wearing my mask. And washing my hands. And disinfecting all the surfaces.

I'll try to figure out ways to support my local businesses as they open up, but I won't be . . . 

  • eating at restaurants
  • getting a haircut
  • going to the gym
  • strolling through the farmers market
  • meeting up with friends
  • going to a movie
  • traveling

These are all hard things for me. Because I love doing ALL of those things. And I miss doing them.

But I also really don't want to get COVID-19 (and especially before they have the treatment protocols a bit more under control). And I don't want Tom or my dad or my kids or my friends or any of the people who work at the businesses I support to get it either!

For me . . . it's all about managing my risk.

How are you planning to manage your own risk as things open up again? And how are you making your decisions? Do you feel like you have enough information to navigate your Pandemic Life? 

==

Here are a few other articles I've read about what public health experts have to say about making choices and managing the risks as our communities open up again (I'm not certain, but some of these may require subscriptions to read):

From The Atlantic: As Restaurants and Stores Reopen, What's Safe

From the Washington Post: Where Public Health Experts Will - And Won't - Go as Businesses Open Back Up

From Vox: Coronavirus: When Will It Be Safe To Work Out With Other People Again?

From Vox: Lockdowns Worked. Now What?

 

 

Comments

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Carolyn

Fantastically helpful, Kym! We’re doing MUCH the same here—Troy has been and will continue to be our sole grocery-getter. No indoor anything for anyone else (SO lucky it’s springtime). We’ve just, as in yesterday, let each of our kids see their best friend, and only outdoors, spread apart. We had to give this one small consolation. Not knowing how long this will last, and the fact that hat these kids go to different schools, their opportunities to be in friendship have been null for 2+ mos. I’ll admit it’s nerve wracking. But it also feels valuable. (And then, they showered.)

Mary

I like the way you think about this pandemic. I have tried repeatedly to say the exact things to some of my friends but they, like most of my "red" state, think they are invincible. I hope I don't hear that any of them are hospitalized in the coming weeks.

Those were informative articles at the bottom of your post. I am forwarding the Washington Post one to my boys, who all live in bigger cities. They are all careful but, like the rest of us, fight the rising tide of peer pressure that we are all overreacting. It's nuts that we who are taking precautions are now "the crazy ones". LOL.

Shirley

I’m with you, Kym. As someone over that magical age of 65, I won’t be shopping or going out to eat anytime soon. I found the Erin Bromage article particularly helpful. Thank goodness we are entering the summer season here in the Upper Midwest, so I can spend lots of time outdoors where the risk is less. The hardest part for me is the prospect of not hosting family or friends for overnight stays at the lake house.

Bonny

Our numbers in NJ are still terrible, so not much has changed here. Our county is looking better, but overall the state is still reporting 1800 new cases/day, so we're not re-opening yet. Even though the governor has said the beaches will be open this weekend, I'm not much for the madness of the shore on Memorial Day weekend, and definitely not this year. Our governor is like yours and emphasizes that science and data are driving his decisions. So, still wearing masks, not going anywhere except the grocery store and for walks, and no haircut, at least until June 5th (and probably well beyond).

Vera

So much to think about! I am going grocery shopping and I did go to Target the other day. Geeze it felt great to be in a store that wasn't exclusively groceries! I needed/wanted new bath mats and a shower curtain and a few other items. The store was basically empty and those few folks I did see were masked. I will be going/have been going to my office, but there will be minimal people there. Originally we were going to re-open June 1st, but due to meetings (budget meetings which I'm hosting as well as a few others), the office will not open till mid-June. And then it will be skeleton crews each day with folks still working from home. No more Friday breakfasts!! Or lunches!! But that's ok.

I don't belong to a gym, so not an issue for me. I do wonder about my library and (more importantly - in my mind) our State Stores (liquor). I don't like buying wine at the grocery store (limited and poor choices).

Finally, Fletch and I have both had to cancel numerous doctor appointments. Bot of us have had basil cell carcinomas, so we both have a full body check a couple of times per year. I want to have that, and you can't do that over the phone. And we both need to get to the dentist for routine cleaning, but I imagine that won't happen soon.

One of our Farmer's Markets has been open (year round), but I don't shop there. I'm curious about the one I do go to - normally that is open by the end of May and it is in a VERY open area - plenty of space.

I can't remember when I last had a haircut (it may be well over a year), so that doesn't bother me. But I sure would LOVE to have a massage, but I'm guessing that won't be happening any time soon either.

This is all just so friggin' tiresome.....

Karel

I JUST GOT THIS SAME EXACT HAT!!! Oh, I'm so sorry for yelling. But I was that excited. I also got the long sleeve That Woman From Michigan t-shirt. I'm tempted to wear it to the next, inevitable Tromp (not a typo) rally --I mean protest-- in Lansing and stand on the sidelines with the nurses. Keep rocking it, Kym!

Kat

You are echoing how we feel exactly. I would like to figure out how to see my new grandbabies, but that might be via FaceTime for right now...especially since Steve made the decision on his own to "double his own bubble" without any input from me. Yes, it's a sore spot...a big sore spot.

And hair? Nails? Eating out? I have friends who are all eager to go do these things - and don't see and/or care about the risk to themselves or to the service provider. SMH

However, we are taking a step back and being smart giving business to the local people we'd like to "make it" on the back side of this. My risk level is incredibly low, because of all the things you talked about. It is perhaps the one time in my life that I am on the conservative end of the spectrum! lol

Sue

Same here in England, I won’t be changing anything for the foreseeable future. The ‘easing’ of restrictions terrifies me. I have asthma, my parents are in their 80s, we have reduced touch points with the outside world as far as possible and that# how they will stay.

I find it incredible that I have the same problems in England as online friends in the US, Canada, the Philippines and Korea. I try to keep my mental health steady by not listening to the news and limiting social media that is negative or too concerned with conspiracies.

Oh and my previous dislike of politicians has turned into total distrust and scorn. If they wanted to communicate clearly they could but it is insidious that they choose not to.

At the moment I do my best to protect me and mine the best way I can, as for the rest I take the Scarlet O Hara stance and choose to 5hink about it ‘tomorrow’ x


Patty

THAT ARTICLE, THOSE WORDS: Successful Infection = Exposure to virus X Time are what made me re-think my trip to NC with my cousins to help my Uncle. (You should have been in my house last Wed/Thurs as I anxiously changed my mind...and how much better I felt after I did so THANK-YOU!) We won't be doing any of those things either...we're going to kayak on Friday night with friends - apart on the water. Baby steps for sure! xoxo

Geri

Thanks for the wonderful links ! The articles gave good practical insight on how much to expose yourself to. As a slightly over 70 gal, I’m not in a hurry to head out shopping or to large gatherings. I was able to see my granddaughters when we drove to their house to deliver birthday presents. My son in law set up the backyard for SD and we spent a lovely warm afternoon together outdoors.
Right now I’m ok with being at home most of the time. No plans to double my bubble just yet.

Mary

yes! and now living in Georgia, I'm feeling like I have to be even more diligent in all my own precautions because so many are not. (woot! about doubling your bubble! honestly, even having a 3-year old and a 5-year old in the house was super interesting ... it was nice to have things to talk about that weren't coronavirus or "us" ;-)

Carole

Massachusetts has finally slowed down and things will start to open up next week but very slowly and I'm grateful for our governor's guidance. We sort of had to triple our bubble this week to help me with Dale's care but I think we're managing it well and taking the precautions we need to take. I'm with you on all the things I won't be doing, no eating out, no hair care or nail care, no meeting with friends, but I do really really want to go buy plants for my container gardens!

Jane

I think the current - let's get back to normal - stage is more frightening than the initial stay at home period. I live in a state where many think the virus is happening in the bigger cities. They seem to forget the meat packing plants all over Ne. We remain vigilant and living the same as we have been in previous weeks. I have been reading articles by Bromage too. I try to stay current on the science based information. And that hat - I love it!

Chloe

Like some of those health experts, I plan on a case by case basis. How urgent the need (food and medical help), how many people (go early), how big is my supply of masks, gloves and sanitizer (I still go to the grocery store like I'm going into battle.) However I have a vast supply of yarn, needles and patterns, a good amount of baking provisions and a bunch of people to chat with on various platforms, including a live-in hubby. The cabin fever - so far -.is manageable. The haircut capabilities are getting strained, however. And an over abundance of rain makes it hard to see the silver lining. Grr. (There are, however, about 14 hours of Downton Abbey coming up on PBS. I skipped most of these the first time and my DVR is ready.)

Chloe

Love the hat, too. Ishould have skipped most of what I just said and just loved the hat.

Sarah

I am continuing to do what we've been doing -- staying home, staying away from people when I'm out exercising, wearing a mask when I might get close to people. I think we're going to see a resurgence of infection, especially when I see the coverage on the news of people behaving like it never happened. I am very thankful that my employer has told us that working from home will be the default until it's certain that we can return to our offices safely. So status quo here!

Margene Smith

I just paid my stylist for another month of no haircuts and placed a grocery store order (which I'll pick up in a couple of hours). I don't intend to change anything from what I was doing a month ago, although we are meeting with friends and will sit in the garden at the requisite feet apart and while wearing masks. We'll just have a chat. We've no one to double our bubble with so we'll keep it just to the two of us. We've had takeout a couple of times, but even that we've limited. Smith is working and he does as much as possible (as does is employer-for now) to stay virus free. Admittedly, this is a drag, but I am not ready to leave this world because of this damned virus.

kathy b

Kym, we are in total agreement. Fireman and i are staying in until those who are so brazenly going out with out a care, reveal their fates in a few weeks. Sure I miss seeing people especially Allison and Zach, but we are not taking chances with COVID.

We wear masks. We don't go into stores at all. They bring it to the truck or we don't get it. I now know how to zoom. My gardens are the best they've ever been.

I miss being SERVED...lol. But we are getting carry out a bit here and there.

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