COVID Affinity- Guidelines and Checklist- Casa 62- Copyright Daniel Trenner- 2020
DRAFT!! October 9, 2020-
Daniel’s new draft combining guidelines and checklist… Incorporating changes and suggestions made so far…
Daniel’s Note Spring 2022:
These Protocol Documents were all created uder duress in the face of an ever evolving Pandemic. New Variants of the Virus, new rules from the CDC, and weekly meetings in our household. So now they are like time capsules. Our thinking and behavior keeps changing, and we have yet to update these written rules again. But they do serve as a foundation for our oging decision process. Please keep that in mind.- DT
Stipulations (requisite conditions):
1- Massachusetts has fared well in the stats so far but it appears a Fall wave of virus may be coming. The local communities are considered safe at this writing, but Amherst is higher risk, because of the College students, and Sunderland had a hotspot in the last weeks which has moved it into the red. Data is now being broken down by town, which can be useful and confusing, but Western Mass remains by and large one of the safest parts of New England. Most data is still published by State rather than town or county. Mass. is averaging 20-30,000 tests a day. In the last weeks positivity rates for testing have risen from below 1%, to 1.1% in the last weeks. Hospitalizations which were stable for months at around 300 (with less than 100 at a time in the ICUs for months) have risen to the 400 range, new cases which were in the 2-300 range are now in the 400-500 range for the state. Deaths have remained in the 10-30/day range. And Hampshire County is among the safest counties in the state. Cooley Dickenson Hospital has been almost empty of COVID patients throughout the pandemic. Point of reference- the CDC recommends pulling back at a 5% positivity rate- we are at 1.1. Most communities in Mass have been given the green light to move to part 2 of phase 3 in the reopening plan, as of this week.
2- People in Massachusetts have proven to be paying attention, but it is true that some people have been becoming more lax, which is contributing to the rising tide of what could be a second wave. Compared to other States, Mass continues to have quick government response to changing data. Mass has an active contact tracing team, which is getting better. Mask wearing, sanitizing, and hand washing are ubiquitous. Again, Hampshire County appears to be exemplary! But some people are getting bored/restless/frustrated and being much less cautious. For some of us the grocery store was a nightmare recently. There is a shared perception that some of the strangers encountered seem more reckless.
3- The above statements support the idea that anyone following the guidelines we are setting out herein, needs to be taking the pandemic seriously, looking ahead with a commitment to improving safety, and being responsible. The ability to expand circles of affinity, rests with our ability to remain within such circles that are remaining safe and secure in their societal social behavior and encounters. This depends on our group being in agreement that participating in the random reopening of public spaces like restaurants and stores is NOT a great idea. To that end we continue to collectively only “take out” from restaurants, and follow our 10-15 min rule for getting in and out of stores and offices. We have been and are getting better at this.
4- Daniel has written a longer document titled ‘“Rings of Affinity”, about the concept of grass roots being an appropriate format for bringing a small, known set of social rings into our collective lives. It is a reference that gives a good overview of what we are trying to formalize now with these guidelines. Here’s the link:
5- Testing is an important measure of group health. At this writing it is still NOT easy for everyone to get tested on a regular basis, but the more testing that is done, the more we will know about the relative safety of our affinity groups. Therefore everyone should try to get tested as often as it is possible pithing the the rules set out by your work and regular medical practitioners. If a test is negative then everyone tested knows that they are safe at that time, and if the test comes back positive, then everyone in that bubble locks down until they are all retested and the outbreak can be traced. Some of us have been tested regularly because of work or school, and more information is better for everyone in all circles. Each of us should seek testing whenever it is possible, and convenient to get.
6- Anyone in consideration of Affinity should already be engaged in the active seeking of safety within their own circles, already “locking down” with relatively few intimate contacts beyond family and close friends. We have organically become a society of bubbles, at least around here. People in Mass are getting tested a lot, much more than other states. Mass has a strong public health sector, and government that listens to them. Mass has a lot of universities and many of them are good at researching. Universities provide testing to students and staff and that is why there is a great amount of people being tested there.
7- The best information now indicates that the highest risks for contracting COVID come from “prolonged exposure in an enclosed environment”, and our present rules have kept us out of such environments beyond the container of our house.
How we can safely add to our social Rings:
Disclaimer: Nothing is 100% safe, including the activities we now engage in mostly safely, like shopping, work visits, and medical attentions. But our mental and social health during an extended period of pandemic lasting months or years is what drives this attempt to create conscious guidance.
1- Under the circumstances stipulated above we can safely expand our circles of contacts, little by little. Some times it is for work, sometimes it is for projects, and sometimes for pleasure. We safely can grow our circles, as long as the society here in Western Mass stays safe, and that we pay attention to the signs that would indicate it is time to step back and isolate, or lock down again. We will keep the total number of vectors low.
2- We set a strict standard of communication, transparency, and contact tracing with anyone we do safely choose for affinity, and that we limit the numbers of people that we choose to include in our overlapping bubbles.
3- People eligible for inclusion in affinity are chosen depending on the dialogue around the checklist that follows, and their assurances that they too are being serious about safety.
- This is NOT a contract, it is an agreed upon set of guidelines, set out by one household, as we attempt to navigate this pandemic.
- If things get worse, we can, and will, stop at any time. Lines of good and dependable communication are essential.
- These guidelines are NOT to supersede State of Mass Public Health guidelines and rules. We intend to be more strict, not less. Public Health guidelines, when more strict than ours, always take precedence.
- This agreement is fluid and can only work with continued communication and trust – we can always ask additional questions of each other- we can always improve and clarify as the situation evolves.
Step One: Share Casa 62’s House Protocols
- Share Casa 62’s Protocols (a separate document which is and evolving set of guidelines for housemates and visitors to our house) with point person to review and/or discuss with their house.
- Link here:
- How do your house protocols align with our house protocols?
- What discrepancies are easily resolvable?
- What unresolvable discrepancies exist?
Step Two: The Checklist
To be reviewed by the designated point person or people, with Casa 62 liaison(s).
- My housemates and I have open communication and have set protocols, which align with Casa 62’s protocols as discussed.
- My housemates and I have agreed to uphold set protocols to the best of our ability
- If my housemates have a risky encounter that does not align with said protocols, they will inform the rest of the house of the increased risk immediately.
- I trust my housemates to uphold all the agreements we have set.
Housemate/Bubble Information to consider:
- My house consists of _________ people.
- My housemates and I share unmasked space with__________ additional people.
- Any additional people in our Community (outside of our household) follow the outlined protocols (as mentioned above).
- ________ of the people in this Community (house members +other intimate humans) work or attend school in-person.
- ________ of those people must interact with “the public” (different people every day such as working with customers, clients, guests, etc.)
- _________ of those people are tested regularly.
- ________ of the people in our Community have access to frequent or at-will testing.
- My Community has contact information (email and phone) with every person that comes into our intimate bubble (masks off, at home, socializing, etc.) and vice versa.Â
- All members of our Community, including those outside of our household, have an explicit agreement that we will be contacted in the case of a COVID emergency, or suspicion of one.
- We have agreed upon modes of communication and have shared our contact information with each other, to facilitate emergency information dissemination.
Interacting Outside the Community, Circle, Ring, or Bubble:
- My Community always wears masks in all indoor spaces outside of the home as well as within 6 feet of people in outdoor spaces.
- Do you know what everyone in your circle does for work, and have you discussed the risks with them? Are they aware of what others in their work space are doing about safety, and do they have open lines of communication so that threats will be communicated and contacts can be traced?
- People in my Community that work outside of the home take extra precautions to keep the rest of the Community safe, and has been discussed with Casa 62. What are the limits, if any, that your circle has applied to work environments? Are there work environments that are inherently unsafe? What are the safety/ reporting requirements of people in your circle that work with greater risk?
- I, on behalf of my Community, will inform Casa 62 of any work status changes as they relate to the safety of our community (both my Community and the Casa 62 Community).
•When shopping we follow all safety protocols, wear masks, change cloths when returning home, hand wash, etc.
- When ordering takeout, my bubble sanitizes or disposes of take out containers upon entering the house.
- People in my bubble do NOT dine-in at any restaurants, bars, or other food establishments, including high-traffic/congested outdoor seating (this does not include other outdoor eating, such as social distanced picnics or meals in private or less congested areas).
- All social activities outside of our Community are conducted socially distanced. Are any of the people in your circle engaged in other social activities that challenge the idea of safe boundaries. What are the protocols for such groups? Can they meet the needs of our connection for safety and contact tracing?
- With regards to socializing with non-Community in public outdoor spaces, my Community is committed to maintaining 6 feet distance (when possible) and wearing masks within 6 feet of others (masked or unmasked)
- With regards to indoor public spaces, my Community is not attending in-door social events (such as concerts, theaters, parties, etc.).
Communication with Casa 62
- I agree to immediately communicate any changes or threats that happen within my Community to the other communities we are in contact with, including Casa 62 Middle St.
- I agree to give my name and contact information to Casa 62 so that if their Community has any changes or threats, I can be notified and subsequently notify my Community. This will be kept in a spreadsheet for contact tracing, only accessible to those who live at Casa 62.
Step Three: Checklist Review with Casa 62
In discussing protocols and reviewing the checklist, were there any concerns or uncertainties? If so, discuss at next house meeting.Â
Step Four: Further Discussion Between Casa 62 Point Person and Possible Connection
If any follow-up is required after the house meeting, be back in touch with your contact person to discuss blocking concerns and possible solutions.Â
Step Five: Final Meeting and Contract Trace/Phone Tree Addition
If both homes are in consensus, add the contact person to the Contact Tracing Spreadsheet. Congratulations, you can touch a friend!Â
Dancing in the Corona Vortex
A Suite of Papers by Daniel Trenner authored during the Pandemic of 2020-2022