Hunkering Down for Omicron
Bracing ourselves for the next wave of the COVID-19 pandemic
In light of recent news, I diverged from my regular subject matter to discuss how my family has been preparing for the newest wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. I hope you find the information helpful.
At this point, it’s reasonable to assume that the current COVID-19 pandemic wave will dwarf all prior ones. The numbers speak for themselves:
My partner Kelsey and I have been discussing this since Christmas Day dinner. Initially meant to be a small family gathering, we instead decided to keep the dinner to us and our daughter only. We all have cold-like symptoms, though ostensibly not due to COVID-19 as we tested negative via rapid antigen tests. Nonetheless, cancelling the get-together seemed like the safe thing to do.
As we conversed over dinner, we reflected on the approaches we took near the start of the pandemic. This was before a vaccine was even in sight — arguably a more uncertain and less hopeful time. In light of Omicron however, we have been reluctantly considering which approaches to revisit in 2022, and how.
It’s hard to say if we’re being overly cautious, because it’s hard to imagine how we’d tell, in hindsight. Shelter Skelter comes to mind — one of the most memorable Twilight Zone episodes, and a salient portrayal of the dangers of obsessive survivalism.
On the other hand, it’s clearer to see how “not cautious enough” looks like: our unvaccinated daughter gets COVID-19. Once that happens, it’ll be too late to course-correct our cautiousness (at least when it comes to our daughter’s health). At that point, we can only hope that she doesn’t develop a complication such as PIMS.
So I wanted to share what we’ve been thinking. Our main goal is to get through the Omicron wave without our three-year-old daughter getting COVID-19 before she’s vaccinated. Of course, we also intend to avoid infecting other unvaccinated people with COVID-19, given that vaccinated people can still spread the virus (especially the Omicron variant, as the recent surge suggests).
1. The Basics
We are all fully vaccinated and getting our boosters as soon as we can (in the next week). We also intend to vaccinate Ella as soon as she’s eligible. We also consider any government guidelines as a minimum bar. This includes guidelines set by services such as our daycare and dentist to be symptom-free, to show a negative PCR result upon recent COVID exposure, etc.
2. Non-negotiable Work Terms
Kelsey and I are lucky that we can do our jobs from home. If we weren’t in that position, we’d be setting non-negotiable work terms with our respective employers. Work terms that are based on what we feel is safe, as opposed to being told what we should feel is safe. If push came to shove, I like to believe that we’d stand our ground and quit. But that would be a tough call, and one we hope to never have to make.
We plan to bubble with neighbours whose child is in the same daycare class as our daughter. We’ve established a shared understanding and plan to set expectations for out-of-bubble interactions. Namely, minimizing these interactions as much as possible, while also setting conditions on how they occur — e.g. outdoor-only, mask-wearing, etc. We don’t expect every one of these conversations to be easy.
4. Deliver (almost) Everything
We’re able to get pretty much everything delivered to our home. For groceries, we started using Instacart at the beginning of the pandemic and haven’t stopped (we pay $99/yr for free delivery). For general supplies, Walmart, Amazon, and Well.ca (includes prescription delivery) are obvious choices. For beer, I found ordering direct from local breweries works best — here’s a handy index (my go-to is GLB).
Returns are the only use case where we need to go into a store, though it just involves dropping off a ready-to-ship package (with the shipping label already attached) at a Canada Post counter, so the interaction is minimal.
5. Leverage Routine
During the lockdown of 2020, I found Atomic Habits an invaluable guide to making the most of routine. I often refer to its core thesis, the Four Laws of Behaviour Change, as a means to check-in and re-enforce beneficial habits while shedding undesirable ones.
So far, I’ve signed up for a Peloton subscription, been using Duolingo to dabble in new languages, and have started this Substack newsletter as a means to get back into writing regularly. I’m still working on getting these habits to stick, so take this advice with a grain of salt!
Thinking ahead to 2022, Kelsey and I have been preparing mentally and physically for a long hunkering-down period. I’m curious to hear where your mind is at, and what you’ve been thinking and doing. Let me know!