Remember pandemic summer? It now seems a glorious idyll, compared with the stingy light emissions, dead leaves and cold reality of mid-November. It’s all headed downhill from here. And not in a good way.
During those lazy hazy days of late summer, I wrote a blog post about prepping for winter, in which I laid out some ideas for ensuring cozy continuous COVID-free contact with friends and family. Visions of patio heaters and down-filled onesies danced in my head, and the prospect of changes in temperature seemed like no problem at all. We just throw heating appliances and polartec fleece at the problem, and it vanishes.
Several months later, I’m finding that plan A isn’t the solution I hoped it would be. Friends and I are still meeting outside some, but as winter gets closer, the cold and damp is less inviting as a backdrop for leisurely socializing. I yearn for the coziness of my living room, with its comfy sofas and soft throw blankets and smoke-free fireplace video, courtesy of Netflix (I prefer the one with no soundtrack– just the crackle sounds).
So, I’ve ditched my previous plan and am now working on Plan B. This new plan consists of the following:
- Running a HEPA air purifier in my living room/dining room area to help reduce aerosols (I picked one after reading extensive reviews on this site);
- Having a supply of both N95 masks and high-quality disposable masks for guests to wear while inside my house;
- Arranging my living room/dining room area for comfortable and generous social distancing;
- limiting guests to one or two others at a time;
- limiting or giving up meals together inside (so to maintain mask wearing inside);
- limiting my circle of guests to a very small number of them;
- Faithfully Zooming with a larger circle of friends to keep in touch, even when the Zooming itself seems like a chore;
- Reminding each other that this isn’t forever– there will be spring and vaccines and ebbing of caseloads, as is the way of things.
IMPORTANT DISCLAIMER: I’m not making any claims about the benefits or risk reduction of any of these actions I’m taking. In particular, the combo of air purifier and serious mask wearing indoors for a small number of people is just something I’ve decided to try. And, it’s based on reading and talking with knowledgable folks. But, this is an area of great uncertainty and unknown risk. I’m doing me here. You do you.
I’m taking on whatever risks that go along with this plan because I really value and need social contact of various sorts with the people I care about, and I’m making this call. It’s possible (even likely) that things will change and I’ll have to come up with Plan C. Luckily, there’s an entire alphabet at our disposal, so we can pivot and shift and improvise as we learn what does (and doesn’t) work.
Readers, what are you winter pandemic plans? Are you all-outdoors-or-bust? Are you doing some indoor socializing? I’d love to hear what ideas you’ve come up with.