Patients are often in a quandary about issues related to social distancing. This has been especially true for those who are older or who have chronic conditions. One of my wife’s friends in her exercise group has opted out of group participation for the foreseeable future to minimize risk of virus spread. A patient and her husband came in recently and discussed with me the fact that they had not visited their grandson for several months. Many are continuing to forego dining in at restaurants. Questions abound about when a mask should be worn, and when it may be ok to leave it off.
These are all good questions for which there is no obviously correct answer. Some have completely stopped going to retail stores and grocery stores. How does one strike a happy medium between the extremes of self-quarantining in your own home, not going out at all and not having contact with anyone, and the opposite extreme of throwing caution to the wind? How does one move on with some semblance of a normal life and still minimize the risk of acquiring Covid-19 infection?
Although I don’t claim to be an expert, here is my list as a relatively healthy 71 year old with a large family:
1. Exercise: I go out daily to either walk or ride my bike. When I walk, it is with my wife. When I ride it is usually alone. I don’t wear a mask for this activity. When I visit the local health club to get on a machine, I maintain social distance, clean the machine before and after I use it, use hand sanitizer. I wear a mask into the club and remove it to exercise.
2. Shopping: I go to stores such as grocery stores or hardware stores when I NEED an item, not just for casual shopping. I wear a mask and maintain social distancing.
3. Family: We have continued interacting with our children and grandchildren. I recognize that there is some risk of exposure to an asymptomatic family member. We have decided to accept that risk because we just aren’t willing to miss seeing them! The only alternative I see to this is to just wait until we are all immunized and that would be an unacceptable amount of time to wait.
4. Dining: We use food delivery and take out as options. We are waiting to dine in until the case numbers are lower and/or we have been vaccinated. This seems like a reasonable risk reduction strategy.
There you have it. This is what we do. You all will have to make your own decisions about how much risk you are willing to take. Everyone is, and will continue to be, at some risk for infection with Covid-19. I wish you the best in this process.