Despite being “so done” with living our lives around the COVID-19 virus, the severity of the current rate of infection demands our attention…and consideration. We have many months of coping and learning under our belts. We’ve become informed about the scientific facts, transmission method, and most importantly, the tools and lifestyle behaviors that can protect us and prevent infection.
We wish it away. We are fatigued and exhausted with our COVID preoccupation. Locally, we hear about restaurants, stores, and other businesses that have “closed” temporarily after an outbreak. We are aware of the staggering numbers of positive cases recorded daily by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, reaching upwards of 6,000 cases per day recently.
The statistics reflect that much transmission is occurring in the home. Our greatest risk is “sustained and unmasked exposure” between people in our “personal bubble.” Though we feel safe and confident with who is in “our” bubble, the reality is that anyone in “their bubble” is also in ours. Our circle may not be as small and restricted as we would like to think.
Many of us are asking with some variation this question before we decide who we will see, who we will risk being unmasked with, who we will share a meal with, and in essence, who we will be exposed to. It’s critically important to ask these questions, but I’ll suggest we be even more specific. It may feel like a survey or interview, and maybe it is. In the effort to keep yourselves and those in your immediate circle and household COVID-free, you have every right to ask for answers.
Consider these questions as you peel the onion:
Who are you having into your home?
Who are you sharing meal time with?
Are you wearing masks? Correctly? Consistently?
Are you eating indoors at restaurants?
How “public” is your lifestyle? Shopping? Visiting? Church?Events?
What precautions are in place at your work?
Have there been any COVID-Positive cases?
We need to feel comfortable asking questions. We have the right to decide how much risk we open ourselves to, who we will be exposed to, and feel empowered to make the best decisions we can to assure our health and safety.
You go along with your immediate bubble members' status quo, despite the still small inner voice trying to get your attention. You must rethink your hesitation if you are struggling or hesitate to ask the tough questions or advocate for yourself or your loved ones.
Our power to carefully calculate and manage the risk of exposure takes on profound significance as numbers increase and talk of mutations of the virus begin, the COVID-19 vaccine rolls out to healthcare providers, first responders, and those at highest risk, and more community restrictions are imposed to curb transmission.
In retrospect, we often say, “if I had only listened to my intuition.”We doubt ourselves, second guess, and can be easily persuaded to disregard our own still small voice. That voice may be our own “built-in” safety net. Suppose our “inner voice” is fueled by fear or anxiety based on hype, hysteria, or media frenzy. In that case, a trusted reality check may be helpful to restore perspective or verify our position.
Empower yourself with the tools you have always had.
So much has and continues to happen all around us that we seemingly have no control over. Frightful, concerning, and threatening current events, worrisome political and societal climates, and the ever-present danger of COVID-19 puts a prolonged burden on our coping abilities.
When we claim and empower ourselves with accurate information, proven strategies for remaining safe, and maximally reduce our risk, we regain some actual control over our well being; this propels us from victim to victor. We become strengthened and well-positioned as excellent advocates for ourselves and those in our bubble. We can make educated decisions about our exposure risks and take precautions to reduce those risks by committing to vigilant mask use, distancing, and an intentionally limited contact sphere.
In our frustration and exhaustion of the many stresses we face now, remembering our power and choice can restore our sense of self-care and empowerment. We have access to a robust toolbox that can serve us well, even in a time of uncertainty.