My Self Quarantine is Coming to an End

I guess a more accurate title would have been, “my self quarantine ended weeks ago, but now it feels like I am moving into a new phase.”

A close friend of mine had the coronavirus back in March/April. Fortunately he came through relatively easy. He asked me last night, “so what do you think about people who are antibody positive?”

The question carried with it a multifaceted purpose. First and foremost, he wants to hang out, but he is also keenly aware of how strict I have been about seeing people outside of my bubble. I appreciated the question because I like when people take an outward approach to seeing where my risk tolerance is. Remember, a few weeks ago I wrote about this weird place a lot of us are in. It is a place where people around us – friends and family members – are opening up the firehouse and returning to their normal lives. In doing so, there is an assumption that we can’t join them, wherein it feels like those of us with complex illnesses are being left behind in the broader reopening.

I wasn’t too sure how to answer his question. I do want to believe there is an immunity period. There are data to suggest a period of immunity does come after the virus, but the question is how long? To be clear, my friend has strictly followed social distancing guidance since recovering, but opening up my bubble invites all sorts of questions.

It again goes back to my blog about risk tolerance – how much risk am I willing to assume and when? At some point I know I need to have the confidence to be back in public – after all, school is starting up again in September, and we are anticipating some degree of on campus activity. I fully plan to participate – even if that means I wear a mask and eye protection. Though I know that if virtual schooling does come back into the picture – I will be ready for it.

When I say my self quarantine, which started near the beginning of March, is coming to an end, I really do mean it. I have no problem walking into a store, a coffee shop, getting take out, stopping for gas, playing golf or eating at an outdoor restaurant. I have done all the above in the past month – while wearing my mask. Last week I wrote about the call for universal masking (and the bizarre disagreement at the middle of whether or not people should wear a mask). It has to go without saying that breaking down the walls surrounding my self quarantine relies on cooperation from every day people – and that means wearing a mask and rigorous hand washing (and sanitizing). Wherever and whenever that falls short – I lean heavily on my infection control skill.

I constantly find myself muttering under my breath, “don’t touch your face… don’t touch your face.”

The thing no one is talking about is HOW EASY it is to practice contact precautions.

Think about it.

In healthcare facilities all across the world there are providers and staffers who continue to test negative for the novel coronavirus despite practically bathing in the virus day in and day out. Why? They are smart about infection control. They know how to properly wear PPE, dispose of it and what to do in between. Why can’t we teach the general public the same skills? It should be easy enough to do – all of us with CF are taught how to stay safe in the middle of cold and flu season, for example. We’re also taught how to stay safe in hospital and clinic settings. It’s really not so hard.

So, yes… my quarantine is coming to and end. I’ll probably hang out with my friend – masks on and from a safe distance soon.

I think it’s time a lot of us start building confidence in our infection control skill and public interactions, but for the love of God… wear a mask.