Looking to expand social bubbles during pandemic

Family Healthcast - Expanding your social bubble
Family Healthcast - Expanding your social bubble
Published: Jul. 15, 2020 at 12:43 PM CDT
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HASTINGS, Neb. (KSNB) - As the coronavirus pandemic continues, more and more Americans are looking at expanding their stay-at-home social circles to include additional friends and family members.

Experts say it can benefit mental health, but it’s important to figure out the right fit for families and set some ground rules. After months of the same places and faces, Americans are weary of isolation.

A recent survey from Johns Hopkins University of U.S. adults finds nearly 14 percent reported signs of serious psychological distress, up nearly ten percent compared to two years ago.

One of the possible factors is loneliness.

“We definitely need that social interaction and as someone with two young children I want to talk to other adults,” said Dr. Sadiya Khan of the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine.

The time may be right for some families to begin carefully expanding their COVID bubbles, if they're in an area where cases aren't spiking.

"The main and most important thing is trying to identify people who share similar practices to you," said Dr. Khan.

Have open, honest conversations, keeping in mind any conditions that might place someone in a "higher risk" category. Make sure everyone is on the same page as far as wearing masks, social distancing and venturing outside the home.

“Are you limiting it to essential places, like are you going to the grocery store? If you are working outside the home, what are the restrictions in place at your work environment?”

Decide what to do if someone in the bubble is exposed to the virus, or if a routine changes. For example, someone needs to physically return to their office.

And recognize the need to be flexible as families build their quaren-teams. Finally, health experts say if you’re in a virus hot spot, you likely want to hold off on expanding your bubble.

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