Anyone else questioning the extent of "social isolation"?

How seriously are you taking the recommendations to socially isolate?

I’m not suggesting that people simply continue living their lives as normal. I certainly understand the benefit of avoiding large crowds and vulnerable populations.

But I’m wondering what aspects of “normal living” ought to be avoided? For example, this evening I am planning on going to a friend’s house where 3 of us will play music. Hearing people talk, I’m wondering if I should ask my 2 friends if they think we should cancel. But I really question whether the risk to us - or society - is more than infinitesimally negligible.

I don’t want to suggest that the loss of live from this will be traumatic to many people. But we don’t have a good idea exactly what the mortality rate is. And if avoiding crowds/excessive contact, washing hands eliminates the vast majority of risk, how far should we go trying to eliminate the remaining portion?

If we are supposed to avoid crowds exceeding 10 (or 50, or 100), then why hasn’t air travel and public transportation been shut down?

I find myself drawing comparisons to 9/11, where IMO we grossly over-reacted to the threat. Feel free to call me irresponsible or whatever if you wish, but I’m really trying to figure out what is a reasonable and responsible approach, balancing between living life as normal, or hoarding and hunkering down like survivalists.

Basically not leaving the house unless it’s to go out to get necessities. I would normally go out to a bar and/or restaurant several times a week. I can live without that short term. I’ll meet up with friends after this blows over.

Excellent OP. I am not sure either. We have a night planned with friends this Saturday for dinner at someone’s home - there will be 8 people. It was planned a long time ago. I don’t wont to go, my wife definitely wants to go, and it is important to her. Not sure what to do. I also work in an office of 4 people, and don’t know if there is any real benefit to working from home. We are all washing our hands, have plenty of space, and are wiping down surfaces, not coming in if sick.

8 friends.

Obvious typos in the OP:

“I don’t want to suggest that the loss of liFe from this will [NOT] be traumatic to many people.”

We’re not meeting people, shopping, or dealing with others unless it’s necessary. We are grocery shopping, driving to the park to go for a run by ourselves, taking walks in the neighborhood, but little else. If you can avoid meeting up with others in person, please do so.

So this is interesting.

There is enough information about COVID-19 out there to explain to you how the virus works and what it does. And anyone with a sixth grade education in math should be able to read and glean insight from a logarithmic graph of active cases over time and understand what “exponential” means. So I’m not going to bother to repeat it unless I need to.

I guess I’m going to turn the question back to you:
Given what we know about the virus and how it spreads, why do you think there is little risk for you and your friends to get together to play music?

  • Are you positive none of you are carrying it? Plenty of people are carrying it who are asymptomatic.
  • Do you think that you might be immune? AFAIK, no one is unless they have already recovered from an infection.
  • Are betting on if you catch it, the effects won’t be that severe? Hopefully you are right
    I think what is so insidious about COVID-19 is that it’s like a small leak in a big boat. People don’t think it’s a big deal because it doesn’t look that threatening. Until you realize you have nothing to plug it up with. Then the results are just math. It’s not like the flu that kills thousands of people a year, but is a small percent of the people who get it. And it’s not like Ebola or something that kills quickly and is so terrifying that it generates an immediate response.

Well, I don’t know that I simply accept at face value everything I hear from the government - or even health organizations.

I see 2 issues. First, what is needed to reduce the chances of me getting it and, if I do, how bad will the consequences be? Second, what do I owe society to avoid spreading it.

You have access to better information that I do if you understand there to be a clear agreement as to the relative effect of various specific actions/interactions in transmitting the disease. What percentage of the risk do you believe is reduced by hand washing, and avoiding crowds and vulnerable people? To me, the remaining portion poses a legitimate question of potentially diminishing marginal returns. In fact - what is the risk of fatality for people of various ages/health? Until we have universal testing, how will we know?

Another aspect is fatalistic. I’ve read enough apparently informed opinions suggesting that this bug is out there widely enough, such that it IS going to pass through the population. Our main goal at this point is slowing - not stopping - the spread. My federal workplace has required that I continue coming in to work. And people are allowed to take airplane trips for pleasure. I have a couple of extra bags of rice and lentils in the cabinet, but I have not joined in on the panic buying. So to that extent - yeah, I’m glad I’m reasonably healthy, and that the chances of me personally experiencing dire effects should i be infected is VERY low.

Finally, what are you relying on for advice as to reasonable precautions? The CDC does not say, “Don’t go out.” They say to avoid close contact. So why would you not go to a friend’s house and chat, provided you didn’t shake hands or sit next to each other?

Each of us has to draw our own personal lines. I’m certainly not suggesting going out and about and spitting on public handrails…

Essentially, whatever we are doing (on average) right now is not enough, because cases are still increasing exponentially.

The further below average you keep your own social contacts, the more the average goes down.

Some more-high-exposure avenues of infection are remaining open because they’re essential to the continuing infrastructure that we do actually need. Some people can’t social distance because otherwise they’ll go broke. Some things are staying open because people are dumb.

But whatever other people are doing, the more you limit contacts the more you’re helping.

I will admit that I am kinda on the fence about small gatherings in homes. Public places are right out, because you aren’t just sharing the space with the people around you–which could easily be dozens–but also all the people that were there before you and will be there after you. Public encounters make contact tracing impossible, if someone does get sick. But 2-3 visitors in a home are relatively easy to isolate and generally easy to contact if you develop symptoms. But my deep seating Lawful Good nature feels like I should take every possible step, no matter how minor. I have a friend who invited me over to have a drink tomorrow. I am trying to decide what to do.

Those of you who are of the “absolutely not” school, how do you feel about walking with a friend? Like in a park, at least a meter apart?

Playing music in the same room as an infected and asymptomatic person is no where near a guarantee you will become infected.

The question becomes, really, how infectious is this if someone isn’t coughing and sneezing in your direction?

I’m assuming 6’ of separation is recommended because that is about how far a sneeze or cough would carry respiratory droplets. And I’m further assuming that would require them to be facing you.

I cannot find any information about transmission of this from someone that is asymptomatic. Do you have any info? I’d really like to learn more about it so I know just where to draw lines.

I posted in another thread, that I just checked the CDC and WHO sites. Neither of them say avoid small social gatherings. They DO say to distance, wash hands, isolate if sick, etc…

I’m not sure if it is a logical fallacy or what, but just because something is good for you doesn’t mean that doing more and more is better.

I’m taking it very seriously. Why? Because the consequences of a miscalculation could be fatal for me. I’m 71, have type 2 diabetes, have had breast cancer, and live alone. I have NO family. I’m not taking any chances. I’m retired and don’t need to leave the house, so I’m not. Except to walk my dog. I walk at the local mall just about every day at 7:30 when it opens, but there are only about 5 other walkers and we have NO contact. I’m in and out in about 40 minutes and I don’t touch anything.

My regular stuff like church choir and college classes have already been canceled. I’ve also canceled scheduled get togethers with one or more friends, including my monthly ladies’ lunch group, book club, lunch with two different friends, therapist, Pilates class. I don’t travel, but a lot of the people I know do, and people can spread the virus while they are still asymptomatic.

There is nothing for me to be gained by doubting the news, the government (even this government), the news reports, the stories from Europe about the exponential increase new cases/deaths. Even if they’re all LYING, I can easily adhere to isolation guidelines and be none the worse for wear.

All of this is perfectly reasonable to me. If not to you, YMMV.

Maybe you should heed this.

In many places, public transportation is required for essential work to be done, like doctors and nurses getting to work, and stores getting stocked. Air travel is required for people who are not currently at home to get home, and for some essential movement.

It’s probable that people will use that transport for nonessential things, but it’s still needed for essential reasons.

This is precisely the wrong comparison to draw. We did grossly overreact to terrorism, which was always going to be an incredibly rare threat that was far scarier than it’s actual direct impact. Viral pandemics are not that.

We won’t know if we overreacted for weeks or months or maybe ever. And if we underreact, millions of people will die this year who otherwise wouldn’t. But if you look at what’s happened in Italy, the cities that shut down a week earlier have done way better.

The right comparison is to the Y2K bug. People got alarmed about it in advance, we sunk tons and tons of work into making sure it wasn’t a problem, and then later people said, hey, that wasn’t a big deal after all. It only wasn’t a big deal because of the effort made.

Please stay home from your social events. Don’t just ask your friends if they think you should cancel. That’s a way of putting responsibility on them, and is a great way to have 3 or 4 people, all of whom are kind of uncomfortable about meeting but none of whom want to let the others down, end up meeting even though they all think it’s kind of a bad idea. Tell them “Guys, I was really looking forward to this, but I think we all need to make some sacrifices to help protect society. I’m looking forward to all getting together when the risk is lower.”

People are contagious before they’re symptomatic. You have no idea if you already have it.

But are those people who went out in public, or are those people who saw a total of 2-5 people outside their immediate family, all in private settings, and everyone in that group is following the same pattern? Exponential works the other way, too: a person in a restaurant can expose 100 people to the virus, and if 50 of those 100 people go to public places and do the same, pretty soon we are off to the races. If my neighbor comes over for a drink, and I never go anywhere, what we are contributing to the total spread is absolutely negligible. There’s no where for that to add up to.

I am still really one the fence on this, but I don’t think Italy got where they are because of very small scale private social interactions.

I guess I’m “absolutely not” school for the purpose of this thread … but all the same, I’m still letting my oldest child go to school until they all close and I had a one-on-one meeting with my supervisor on Monday (that was the last one though). So, y’know, I think a walk *outside *is one of the safest in-person things I can think of. Way more so than socialising indoors over the course of an evening. But I’d only go for a drink with your friend if they’re under 60


But the issue isn’t just if you never go anywhere. There is also the issue that you might be asymptomatic but still carrying and unwittingly give it to your neighbour. And then, as someone upthread said, you’re off to the races.

I’m taking music lessons one night a week at a music school in a local mall, but I’m choosing to forego the lessons until I’m satisfied that this thing is finished, not out of fear that I’ll necessarily get Covid-19, but also out of fear that I might inadvertently give it to someone else. And if I did get it, and badly enough, and needlessly because of my own carelessness, I would be needlessly wasting badly needed healthcare resources.

Friend is younger than me. She’s normally a world traveler type, and I think this is killing her. And we teach at the same school, so I sorta think either we both already have it or neither of us do: we are coming out of the same germ pool, so to speak. But I may still cancel, or suggest a walk. It’s a mess. I do think something like “no gathering of more than 5, no gathering in public places” seems pretty safe. But, well, I also want to do the socially conscious thing.

Okay, related–if we are only supposed to go out for essentials, which includes groceries, do I have to wait until I am low on literally everything before it’s ethical to make a grocery store trip? I mean, I think we could go at least a month on what we have, if we rationed enough that we were always a little hungry and ate a lot of repetitive meals. But I went to the store today and bought the things we like, the things we eat first. My thinking is that I shouldn’t be breaking into the true disaster food if I don’t need to, because the whole point of having it is to have it if you need it. So, was that unethical and selfish of me? Should we stay in until the cupboards are bare, and learn to love rice and beans?