DEAR HARRIETTE: I have become a recluse during this quarantine period. I thought everybody was doing the same thing, but then I spoke to some friends in other parts of the country, and learned that we are having completely different experiences. I live in the big city, and we have been on lockdown. Officials have urged us not to go out, and I haven’t. I have ordered my food in and everything.
My friends across the country who live in houses with yards and in neighborhoods that are not so affected have been having cookouts and small parties and really living it up. I feel like I am in the Twilight Zone. So far, my social friends have all stayed healthy, so I can’t even point to what I think is reckless behavior on their part as being detrimental. I just feel like I’m in prison and they aren’t. I hate this, but I’m also afraid to venture out, even now when the rules are relaxing a bit. -- Conflicted
DEAR CONFLICTED: If you look at the charts that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention put out about the outbreak of COVID-19 and where the hotspots are, you will see how safe you are relative to the rest of the country. Your friends in suburbia may be in locations that are less critical in the spread of the disease. Even more, since they have space around their homes, they can go outside and remain safe. Entertaining with family members who live with them or with small groups who practice social distancing can be a safe practice as well.
For you, you will have to figure out what your safety comfort level is. Be vigilant about practicing social distancing, wearing a face covering whenever you go outside and washing your hands regularly. Soon, in many parts of the country, people will be able to venture out more liberally than in the past three months. Do so with caution, but do go out. We have to learn how to live in the midst of this health crisis. Do what is right for you in your community. Do your best not to compare yourself to others.