Pieter de Hooch@National Gallery
Is it safe for our grandchildren to visit us or for us to visit them? For the past two and a half months of the coronavirus pandemic, visits have been limited to waves from backyard windows or FaceTime calls. For most of us--those of us who don't live with our grown children--in person contact has been verboten. As state economies open up and Phase 1 morphs into Phase 2, some of those visits are moving toward in-person get-togethers: socially distanced, well-masked and one family group at a time. No hugging allowed.
Some of us are willing to take the risk of mingling with our Grands (and our grown kids), even as our grown children are hesitant. (They look at that ugly CDC statistic: Eight out of 10 deaths from Covid-19 are in people aged 65 and older.)
Surely there are ways to make in-person visits safer. After all, we need to take into account not only our physical well being but our mental health as well. We get lonesome for our loved ones; isolation is depressing.
The experts have some advice about how to make visits with Grands and their parents less threatening to our well-being. Tara Parker-Pope provided such guidance in her story “When Can I See My Grandkids?” Here are some of the tips:
--No one self-evaluates as reckless. Do a reality check about the actual level of vigilance by every member of the visiting household. Some questions to ask every member of the household would cover: How many times did someone go to a store or meet a friend for a walk. Did a teenage boyfriend/girlfriend stop by for a visit? At the park, did the grandkids run up to another child before the parents could stop them? Does everyone wear a mask?
--There's no perfect. But greater vigilance should be hyped up for 14 days before a visit.
--The al fresco answer. The transmission risk is far lower outside than inside. But even outdoors, everyone should wash their hands and stay at least six feet apart (10 to 12 if anyone has a chronic health condition). Everyone over the age of 2 — and not just the grandparents — should wear a mask. Children are more likely to wear one if they understand that it’s to protect someone they love.
You've heard it before on the importance of masks, but here it is again from an expert with enough research and hands-on experience to know what he's talking about, Dr. Asaf Bitton.
“A sneeze without a mask can spread up to 20 feet. It’s also the act of speaking — we expel droplets even in quiet speech. The mask really contains a great amount of them. The mask is protecting all of us from each other.”
So in-person visits from grandkids who live nearby are possible for those of us lucky enough to have backyards or access to outdoor parks. But the hugging part--that will have to wait.