red hart drawn on graph paper
red hart drawn on graph paper
#Covid19 #QuarantineAdvice

Love, and Quarantine, in the Time of Coronavirus

Paul Kiernan

All your quarantine and virus questions answered, plus suggestions and activities to help you weather this pandemic and keep portions of your sanity intact for when we come out the other side.

We here at ThoughtLab have done the responsible thing and asked our folks to work remotely so we can aid in the lessening of the potential spread of this virus. We’re still working for you and doing all we can to ensure there is no deviation in the delivery of our work. What follows is some information and clarification on what to do during this health crisis.

As the days roll on it becomes more and more apparent that this current pandemic, the COVID-19 as it is now officially named, is going to disrupt our lives in ways we didn’t actually expect. Most folks will be working from home, like your friends here at ThoughtLab, parents will now have to deal with their kids being home from school all day and people are going to need ways to get through the impending quarantine. Questions are spiraling, when will it end, how will we survive and what about love?

Yes, what about love? Some say love conquers all but a handful of Hersey’s kisses and a make-out session in the vacant parking lot of your local Walgreens isn’t going to keep this virus at bay. Only social distancing is going to help us get through this, avoid it’s spread and give the people who need it, the time to come up with a cure or a scenario for life as we move forward. 

So, with that in mind, we here at the Lab offer these ideas, suggestions, activities to help you weather this pandemic and keep portions of your sanity intact for when we come out the other side.

Social Distancing

First off, let’s deal with this vague term and see if we can give a clear definition. This isn’t going to be easy as there are so many definitions floating about, some may have no idea which to follow.

The Center for Disease Control, commonly referred to as the CDC, are the folks we should really be listening to. I mean ‘disease’ and ‘control’ are right in their name so when it comes to disease control, it’s pretty much a good bet to turn to these guys. Unfortunately, even they are changing their tune almost every day.

The CDC said no large gatherings, which, at first was 250 or more. Then they said you know, that’s a pretty big number so they dropped it down to 100. But, even 100 people now seem too many and as of 3/15/20, the CDC has said no gathering of more than 50 people for at least 8 weeks.

The CDC also recommends that we stay 6 to 10 feet away from each other. Which is going to make handshakes, hugs, and high-fives damn near impossible. 

How about a small gathering of close friends, who wash their hands constantly, at my house for fondue and board games? Well, as fun as that sounds to some, it’s best that all gatherings, family visits, visits to the elderly, dates and bowling leagues be put on hold for at least the 8 weeks, as the CDC is recommending. During this time you can think of better things to do than eat molten cheese on skewered stale bread while screaming Yahtzee at each other.

I can still go to my favorite pub, right? Nope. Sorry, that’s a place where a lot of folks will probably be gathering and when folks gather and drink heavily, there’s usually contact, accidental or planned. 

It’s also good to note that some folks are saying: “Well, the CDC says to wash your hands or use alcohol-based hand sanitizer so, drinking 26 bourbons is going to keep me safe and healthy.” This is just bad information. 

First off, hand sanitizer typically contains some combination of isopropyl alcohol, ethanol (ethyl alcohol), or n-propanol. None of these are as dangerous as Methanol, which is not used in hand sanitizer because it’s poisonous and can be absorbed through the skin but, the other possible alcohols aren’t that safe either. Let’s take a little detour here …

Can I Drink Hand Sanitizer?

Now there’s a fine line between “Can I” and “Should I”. Technically, yes you can drink some versions of hand sanitizer. The should is between you and your God or you and your relationship with your internal organs.

There have been trends reported starting in early 2007 of people drinking and making cocktails with and sanitizer. Mostly teenagers, I know, shocking right? Some teens have been reported to mix hand sanitizer with mouthwash, for a minty kind of experience. Some have mixed the gel with salt to separate the alcohol from the gel. Essentially distilling the hand sanitizer. Like most teen fads this one comes with catchy names like “hand sanitrippin’” or “Getting a hand sanity fix” or “Getting drunk on Mr. Clean’s tears” or just “getting hand sanitized”.

Technically, a 240 ml container of hand sanitizer contains about as much alcohol as five shots of hard liquor. But, you have to check the alcohol type. Most often you’re going to see ethyl alcohol listed. Between 60% and 95% of the active alcohol in hand sanitizer is going to be ethyl. Now, this is equal to 120-proof alcohol. Wow, that’s a lot. Yes, yes it is. This comes crashing home when you realize that your average straight vodka is usually about 80-proof.

However, unlike Vodka, hand sanitizer also contains other (inactive) ingredients such as benzophenone-4, carbomer, fragrance, glycerin, isopropyl myristate, propylene glycol, tocopheryl acetate, and water. Some of these ingredients may be harmless while others may be toxic. On this list, fragrances are the unknown. See, most scents are derived from petrochemicals which, seriously,  you don’t want to be ingesting.

So, technically, if you check the type of alcohol, you can drink hand sanitizer but that doesn’t mean you should. If the chemicals don’t get you the extremely high alcohol content will. Most people who end up being hospitalized from drinking hand sanitizers are there because of alcohol poisoning. The alcohol content is so high it’s easy to drink dangerous amounts before feeling any effect.

Now back to social distancing

Let’s now return to the idea of social distancing and find more concrete do’s and don'ts.

Can I still hit the gym, bruh? Nope, not a good idea. Too many people, too many chances for fluids to fly and a gym is basically a Petrie dish for this virus. Work out at home, dance around the house, use yoga videos or go for walks or runs in empty parks. Which leads to …

Can I jog, walk, etc outside? Actually, yes. This is a healthy thing to do right now. You should do your outdoor activities in an uncrowded location and avoid contact with other folks but, being outside and getting your body moving is a good idea.

Now, that’s as of writing this piece, 3/16/20. We have no idea what the CDC will advise later on. But, for now, this kind of activity is acceptable.

Can I go to the grocery store? Yes, you can. But, try to shop when it’s going to be less crowded, early mornings, late at night. The fewer people the better. Now, this is going to be hard because everyone is going to be seeking the times when there should be fewer people and that will cause congestion. We suggest patience. Swing by your local grocer and eyeball it. If it’s too crowded, then come back later. It’s going to be a lot of testing to figure this out and don’t get stuck in familiar patterns.

Yes, you usually do your grocery shopping at 1:23 on a Saturday but, the place is mobbed. Adjust. Roll with it. Pick another time to shop.

Public transportation? This is pretty hard to avoid for a lot of people. If you do have to ride buses or subway or light rail, try to stay as far from others as possible.  Look for less full train cars, keep your distance and don’t put your skin on handrails, poles or straps. 

You could also use ride sharing such as Uber or Lyft. Less contact with people but, still a chance the person who was in the car before you coughed and who knows what was in that cough. I don’t, do you?

If you can work from home, do so. That’s a safe bet. Avoid the public transport commute.

What’s love got to do with it?

What about dating in the time of COVID-19? Should you stop and spend the rest of your days merely monastic?

Well, for the most part, dating is pretty much a one-on-one situation. I mean, sure there could be derivations and, if you do have interesting dating habits, please leave them in the comments, we’re always open to new ideas. But, for the most part, the main concern is with large groups, large chances to spread the virus. Still, you do want to be careful about initiating contact with a stranger.

But, the good news is we have social media and perhaps this is a time to redefine that. A venue that has been notorious for self-promotion, bullying, and pictures of food could actually be used for being … social.

Also, think about using Skype or some other video conferencing app to have “virtual dates”. The idea of not meeting someone in the flesh immediately could seem daunting but, imagine the thrill of talking to someone online and really liking them and that anticipation of the day you’ll meet. The day your hands can safely touch as you reach for the same dinner roll or tire iron. Sometimes, the wait can be worth it.

Social distancing doesn’t mean starting a hermitage

It may seem contradictory but, during this time of no contact, staying in contact is going to be vital.

Most people don’t function well being alone. We are, after all, pack animals and we need our groups, our dudes, our bros, our gang to keep us emotionally and mentally stable. This is even more important during times of quarantine. People who are prone to depression, those susceptible to loneliness can become deeply dressed and more isolated than ever during times like these. It’s important to reach out to each other as much as possible.

An email, a text, a phone call can help those who are struggling to feel less alone and less isolated.  Video chats or check-ins are also helpful. And, even if you’re not prone to depression, being cut off from normal daily stuff can make us all feel a little hopeless. 

Now it might be the perfect time to get pen and paper and write someone a nice letter. But, at the very least, keep in contact with friends and family over the computer or phone. Don’t let your contacts diminish, keep communicating, keep an eye on each other. You never know when a text is going to bring someone out of a slump.

How do I handle a quarantine?

Can I have a few friends over? If I get diagnosed but I’m experiencing only mild symptoms, can I walk around in public? If I’m waiting out the recommended 14-day quarantine, can I have visitors?

Just for the clarification, quarantine is defined as: A restriction on the movement of people and goods which is intended to prevent the spread of disease or pests. It is often used in connection to disease and illness, preventing the movement of those who may have been exposed to a communicable disease, but do not have a confirmed medical diagnosis.

Isolation, friends, we’re talking isolation. Which is: the state of being in a place or situation that is separate from others: the condition of being isolated. The act of separating something from other things: the act of isolating something. Isolation really isn’t a group activity.

If you’re under quarantine, nope, you CANNOT have visitors, you really should NOT be walking around in public. You should NOT go to work, a restaurant, a movie, the theater and on and on. Stay alone, away from others until a medical expert tells you otherwise.

Things to do while in quarantine

Just because you’re stuck inside doesn’t mean you can’t have fun. Here are some quick ideas of what you can do to pass the time.

Cooking show

As the quarantine progresses and groceries have been hoarded to the point of looking like 1921 Russia, you can do a cooking show called: “What can we make with this?” Create new dishes with only the things you have in your cabinets. Be that canned soups, ramen noodles, old crackers … raisins. Get creative, get brave, get filming.

Reading hour

How about a video of you reading your favorite book or whatever book you’re currently reading. People can pass their days listening to your dulcet voice as you read page upon page of War and Peace or The Hobbit. You’re helping others while helping yourself. If you really want to have some fun, don’t read aloud, see how long it takes people to get it.

No gym, gym

How about making a work out video for those who are just going crazy because they can’t get to the gym. Using household items, paint cans, bags of meat, siblings and show people how to do an at-home, quarantined work out.

Capture a visual image of yourself every day

Post a picture on social media of what you look like every day as the quarantine drags on. Spice it up with costumes or outrageous make-up designs. Get creative with what you consider clothing.

Words of encouragement

Why not post a daily video with words of encouragement for those who may need it. Use quotes form the great masters, the movers, and shakers of the world, religious leaders, scientific leaders, your favorite band or, you know, the jokes form Bazooka bubble gum wrappers. Just words for those who may need some distraction.

Interview your pets

Interview your pets on camera, let then talk about how the quarantine is affecting them and how they’re handling it. We can all learn a thing or two from our pets.

Think beyond yourself

This is the time for us to all think beyond ourselves and our personal needs. This is a time to truly think globally. Whether that’s not going to a restaurant or bar in an effort to keep the chances of spreading the virus down to not buying every single can of soup in the market. There are others who may want or need some chicken noodle too.

It’s easy to panic and think only about yourself but, in times of crisis, it’s a good idea to think about the other people in the world as well. Think about the pack and act with others in mind.

We here at ThoughtLab have a great love for all our clients, current and those who we haven’t met yet. We care about our community and all the people we share this planet with. We’d like to encourage you to stay safe, be reasonable, stay calm and know that we are going to get through this and we’ll do so faster and better by relying on each other.

Be kind. Think globally. Stay safe. And visit our site often.

Please leave your ideas on what to do during a quarantine so others can get the benefit of your wisdom.