Each week, OMRF President Dr. Stephen Prescott opens “Adam’s Journal” to answer a medical question from OMRF Senior Vice President and General Counsel Adam Cohen.
My sons are scheduled to come home from college for Thanksgiving. (And Christmas, New Year’s and beyond; the pandemic has created super-sized holiday breaks!)
What precautions should we take to minimize the chances they’ll bring a viral outbreak with them?
Dr. Prescott Prescribes
There is no one-size-fits-all answer here. The measures people take will vary based on their risk tolerance and how much inconvenience they’re willing to accept for safety.
If you have elderly parents or other at-risk people in the home, your approach will be different than, say, for healthy people in their 50s. But at a minimum, you’ll want the boys to isolate for at least a few days when they arrive.
Would it be better if they’d gone into isolation their last week of school? And if they’d been tested on campus before they left? Absolutely.
But don’t let the perfect get in the way of the good. Any protective steps you take when they arrive home are still going to be better than doing nothing and hoping for the best.
To that end, don’t hug the kids when they arrive. Instead, send them off to shower. And designate an area of the house where they can spend the lion’s share of time away from you for several days – and up to two weeks for optimal safety.
Keep windows open whenever possible. If there’s an at-risk person in the home, strongly consider wearing masks.
Be careful about meals. Give everyone lots of space and avoid sharing utensils or, for that matter, pretty much anything. When in doubt, disposables (utensils, plates, paper towels) are the way to go.
Arranging tests for the kids a few days after they arrive adds another layer of protection. But because testing is imperfect, and because the virus has an incubation period of up to 14 days, it’s far from a guarantee of safety.
I know it all sounds onerous, but each precaution you take improves your odds. If you add up all those little steps, you’ll get a lot of protection. And a lot is how much you’ll enjoy spending future holidays together if you make this one safe.