Covid-19: Things I'm Doing Differently

March 4th, 2020
The coronavirus is now spreading through multiple communities, and while there isn't yet evidence of it in Boston I expect there will be soon. Because of the long incubation period and large testing delays it may already be here. Here are things I've started doing differently:
  • Washing hands a lot. I'm now washing my hands before eating, after riding public transit, after touching shared surfaces at work, and on getting home.

  • Not shaking hands. At work I've been saying a lot of "I'm not shaking hands right now, sorry!" with a smile and a wave.

  • Avoiding touching shared surfaces with hands. Pushing elevator buttons with my elbow, using door-opening buttons when present or awkwardly trying to use my sleeved arm, using napkins on the tongs in the cafeteria at work.

  • Bicycling to work instead of taking the subway. I live close enough to work that biking would make a lot of sense, and it's something I've been meaning to do for exercise. I had stopped biking several years ago because I was hurting my knees, but I think if I take it easy they'll be ok. Today I biked there and back for the first time, and it was pretty nice!

  • Requiring guests to clean hands on arrival. We're keeping hand sanitizer by the front door, and asking everyone to either use it or wash their hands when they get here.

  • Not putting candles on cakes. Blowing out candles on birthday cakes isn't all that sanitary at the best of times. At Anna's birthday yesterday I made a pretend cake by mixing flour, water, and red food coloring:

    This lets us still have candles, and Anna can still blow them out, but without blowing all over food everyone is about to eat.

  • Putting copper tape on shared surfaces. Copper kills viruses, and Julia has put copper tape on doorknobs and other shared surfaces around the house:

On the other hand, there are major things I/we aren't doing, at least not yet.

  • Working from home: I can work remotely if I absolutely have to, but I feel isolated and get sad and lonely after a day or so. This is a big constraint for me in general, and I haven't figured out any good solution. At some point with this I may need to work remotely for a while, and I'm really not looking forward to it.

  • Taking the kids out of school: Lily (5y) is in kindergarten, and while it looks like Covid-19 is relatively safe for children they could still spread it. We are lucky to have an au pair, and if we needed to keep Lily home we would still be able to work remotely. Still, she's learning a lot in school, it's good for her socially to have time with other kids, and f we're going to have a long period of school closures I'd rather not start sooner than we need to. Plus I'm not sure what the school's view on preemptive absence is.

  • Cancelling events: I'm still helping organize Beantown Stomp and the regular BIDA dances, and we have an EA dinner scheduled for Sunday. At the most recent contra dance we implemented mandatory hand washing, but the CDC recommends people stay 6ft apart to avoid spread. I think there's a good chance we'll need to cancel some things, but we'll probably have a much clearer picture in a week once the ramped-up testing starts paying off.

There's still a lot of variability here, and it could be both much better or much worse than we're expecting. I'm interested in thoughts from others about places where this is under- or over-cautious, and about other ideas for how to help reduce spread.

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