Read: The worst outcome
Should I stop visiting elderly relatives?
Watson: I think we should start limiting visitation to people who are in assisted-living facilities and nursing homes. I know that’s really tough, and maybe setting things up so you can visit them virtually is a good idea. [That way], they can see you and say hello, [without putting] them at extra risk.
Cannuscio: I think if we are fortunate enough to live near our elders and we get into the mode of seriously isolating our own families, then one person should be designated to go and visit. If we’re not in a situation where we can truly limit our own social contact, then we will be putting that elder at risk by going to visit.
Should I be canceling haircuts and other nonessential appointments?
Watson: Those are more one-on-one interactions. I think there’s a lower likelihood that exposure is going to occur that way. I don’t think that’s a big concern.
Cannuscio: I would say hold off on your haircut and then when you go back, when it’s clear that we have vanquished this foe, everybody please give your hairdresser extra, extra tips. I hope that policies will be put into place to protect the paychecks of people who will suffer during this period.
Should I avoid communal spaces in my apartment building?
Cannuscio: Try to schedule your use of those common spaces so you’re going at times when other people aren’t around. If you know there are not a lot of people in the laundry room or mailroom at 6 a.m., go at 6 a.m. People will be inconvenienced, but it’s important to try to spread ourselves out.
Should I limit physical interaction with my partner, or other people I live with?
Ko: That’s really hard to do. Again, what we’re really worried about is large gatherings. In the home, close contact is almost inevitable.
Cannuscio: I would say if you’re in a steady, monogamous relationship and you and that other person are limiting your social contacts, then be as intimate as you want to be.
Watson: If you get sick, try to maintain some distance. Otherwise, households should go about their normal business.
Can I take my kids to a playground?
Watson: This is a tough call. I will only be taking my son when it is not busy and I can keep him six feet away from other kids. If I walk to the park with him and see many other kids playing, I turn around and go home or just continue on with our walk.
The outdoors is not an ideal condition for survival of the coronavirus, and it will likely not survive long on playground equipment due to a combination of factors such as precipitation and UV light from the sun. However, to be extra cautious, it may be better to avoid the equipment and play catch, or some other outdoor game instead.
Cannuscio: Certainly, there is no chance I would recommend an indoor shared playroom, playground, or play space. For my own children, even the outdoor playground is off-limits, and I would suggest the same to others. One goal is to keep people (including children) away from one another—and children congregate at playgrounds. A second goal is to avoid contaminated surfaces, like play equipment. It’s impractical to suggest that people could use the playground while avoiding people and disinfecting the play surfaces. For now, find the widest open space available to you and your family, and go there.