Hope is still not a strategy.
1. Get tested in your home state before leaving. Our 10-person family recently returned from a 2-week vacation on Westport Island, Maine (Boothbay Harbor area). Regardless of how long they stayed, each adult (and one of the two minors; the other quarantined for two weeks before the vacation) got tested before coming to Maine. The time to get our test results varied from 24 hours to 6 days. Test procedures also varied, with some of us getting the older (more invasive) nasal swab test, others the newer (less invasive) test.
2. Quarantining isn’t practical. The alternative to testing – under Maine’s then-current pandemic guidelines – was to quarantine in place for 14 days after we arrived in Maine. Can you go to the grocery store under quarantine? What about Instacart? We would have had to take an extra car – and buy an extra refrigerator – to carry two weeks worth of food to the house we rented. The kitchen had ice cubes, salt, and pepper. But all other food had been thrown out before we arrived. In short, quarantining in place for 14 days is impractical/impossible unless your vacation destination has room service – and you have an unlimited budget.
3. Wearing your mask is not enough. You should (1) cover your mouth, (2) cover your nose, and (3) pinch your nose to give the mask a snug fit. We all wore masks 100% of the time when not in the house. About half of those we came in counter with did not. Including most folks with Maine license plates and one general store where the entire staff was maskless. If I were mayor or governor, I would require masks outside – except when eating/drinking six feet apart. On multiple occasions, we turned a corner on some street only to come face-to-face with someone not wearing a mask. By the time they realized they were within six feet of us, it was too late. Want to know how well people comply with pandemic rules/regulations? Just look at how well they comply with driving rules/regulations.
4. Understand your rental agreement. We signed our rental agreement in May. In June, the property manager asked us to sign an “addendum,” which was really a new agreement. The new agreement added a COVID-19 compliance clause and an indemnity clause. We agreed to sign an addendum (not a new agreement) with a COVID-19 clause, but we declined to indemnify the owner for anything. Indemnity clauses suck because people don’t understand what they are for, but we’re guessing most folks just sign agreements without reading/understanding them. If you already have a signed agreement, then you don’t need to sign a new one.
5. Pay attention, the rules keep changing. While we were in Maine, the rules for visiting Maine changed, the rules for returning to Massachusetts changed, and the rules for returning to school changed. It’s hard to comply with a moving target. Fortunately, we did not have to quarantine in Massachusetts on our return, since we were coming from a state (Maine) with a lower infection rate. But the MLB season (with no fans and daily testing) is in jeopardy, and the Red Sox have lost their best pitcher (possibly forever) to complications from COVID-19. And Google has extended it’s work-at-home rules until July 2021. Do we really think that any schools (K-12 or college) will be open for in-person learning in the fall of 2020? If it made sense to be in lockdown when daily cases were around 10,000 (in March 2020), then it makes sense to be in lockdown when daily cases are around 60,000 (in August 2020).
In short, I feel fortunate that we were able, as a family, to safely relax, recharge, and hug during our vacation. Now we are hunkered down at home, as we were before, for the long haul. And we will refrain from hugging family members not under the same roof. Cover your mouth, cover your nose, and pinch your nose. And remember, hope is still not a strategy.
Erik J. Heels claims to publish the #1 blog about technology, law, baseball, and rock ‘n’ roll.