Guess Who's Coming to Dinner?
May 2, 2020 1:48 PM   Subscribe

My daughter and her boyfriend are coming up to our home in very rural Vermont from Washington DC. We said no but then said yes because she just lost her job and needed emotional support. Now they are coming. It's not debatable. Tell us what we should be doing to keep ourselves as safe as possible while they are staying in our home.

They appear to have been following social distancing protocols. The boyfriend does not have a mask. My daughter hasn't been wearing one until recently. We want to establish some protocols in our home that will address the possibility that they are asymptomatic and bringing covid19 with them. Please do not address their decision. We realize it isn't optimal but are going to live with it. Help us to be as safe as possible.
posted by Xurando to Health & Fitness (22 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: They will probably be here a week and are both WFH which we are set up to do.
posted by Xurando at 1:51 PM on May 2, 2020

The safest and most extreme precaution is that once they arrive they both need to quarantine (no leaving or outside contact) in your home for 14 days, ideally in their own separate room, where meals and such will be brought to them. Actually, you might want to make that everyone in your household quarantine for 14-21 days if you want to be EXTRA, extra safe.
posted by Young Kullervo at 1:51 PM on May 2, 2020 [16 favorites]

I think having them quarantine is the best idea, and what seems to be recommended here and elsewhere.

One thing I would recommend is to talk to them about it FIRST. Tell them before they come, so they are prepared (with things, and emotionally) for the quarantine.

You have not mentioned how much space you have -- will it be possible for them to be completely separated from you, such as a Guest house, in-law suite, camper or RV? If complete separation is not possible, please let us know so we can try provide different advice to handle that scenario.
posted by China Grover at 2:09 PM on May 2, 2020 [8 favorites]

What is your home set up like (# rooms, bathrooms, floors, entrances etc)?

My parents and I were considering this last month, me going from the US to Canada, where I would have been legally obliged to quarantine for 14 days. I would have been isolated on a separate floor from my parents, with my own bathroom and a little kitchenette to prepare and eat my own meals. Basically the plan would have been for them to stock some food for me before I arrived, I would let myself in and say hello from a distance, wipe down all the doorknobs, etc I touched on the way in, and then disappear for 14 days. If they wanted to share cooked food they would drop off a portion on the counter and go back upstairs.

If you are able (both practically and emotionally) to do something like this or similar, I think that is about as safe as you can get.
posted by btfreek at 2:12 PM on May 2, 2020 [6 favorites]

Do you have extra masks available at your home that you can give them? This is in case they don't have enough of their own (since you said the boyfriend hasn't been wearing one, he may not even have one).
posted by acidnova at 2:26 PM on May 2, 2020

The availability of testing, while nowhere near where it should be, *has* very significantly improved. It's possible they could get prescribed tests even without any symptoms, if they explain their situation to their medical provider.
posted by kickingtheground at 2:35 PM on May 2, 2020 [2 favorites]

The Vermont directive is to quarantine at home for 14 days after arriving from out of state. Friends of mine, who have a vulnerable family member, took the added step of requiring their daughter to self-quarantine for 2 weeks before leaving her NYC apartment to move in with them in Vermont.
posted by baseballpajamas at 3:00 PM on May 2, 2020 [5 favorites]

Best answer: How good is their home quarantine setup? If they've been well-quarantined for 14 days at their home and can make the trip without eating in a cafe or hanging out in a gas station with a bunch of people, then I would not worry. There's always some risk, but I assume there's also a benefit in getting to see them vs. making them stay locked in a room the entire time.
posted by slidell at 3:59 PM on May 2, 2020 [3 favorites]

Best answer: If they're actually visiting for a week, I assume you consider not spending time in the same room together to be off the table? Or is that an option?

If you'll be spending time in rooms together, I'm not sure there's much to be done. Masks inside all the time for everyone? No touching, definitely. If you have a bathroom, they should have their own assigned bathroom and should not use any other, nor should anyone else use theirs. I'd probably not have them go into the kitchen at all and bring them anything they need at all.

Open windows for air circulation. Maybe keep apart from each other in rooms--like, they have one side of the living room they sit in and you sit on the other side, same at the dining room table, so you're not sharing furniture. Wipe down surfaces, be careful to wash your hands after clearing the table at dinner, touching things they've touched, etc.

It's not conducive to a pleasant visit. I would also suggest two weeks full quarantine (no groceries, no errands) after they leave, too, so that if they do bring it to your house, it does not spread further in your area. But that doesn't help your concerns for your own health. Good luck.
posted by gideonfrog at 4:35 PM on May 2, 2020

Response by poster: They have been following the quarantine protocols for Washington DC, trips to grocery, store some outside exercise. Our house is mid-size though the shower is shared. No guest house unfortunately.

My need is to feel as safe as possible within the parameters of this situation. The plan is to share these answers with them and come up with joint protocols that will work for all of us.

The one saving grace is we live in a forest where there are miles of space not used by others.
posted by Xurando at 4:49 PM on May 2, 2020

Is it warm enough for them to camp and you to join them for outdoor dinners?
posted by pinochiette at 5:41 PM on May 2, 2020 [4 favorites]

To meet your personal need to feel as safe as possible, maybe you could leave sufficient camping gear outside, let them set it up on your land, and have no contact with them for at least 14 days, while also periodically placing food, water, and other beverages outside. The contacts they will have on their trip to Vermont with gas stations and tolls, etc, would seem to potentially contravene the effectiveness of any quarantine they might engage in before the trip, even if they make their own masks and wear gloves during their trip.

Similar to how you could provide emotional support if they follow the stay-at-home orders and remain in DC during the state of emergency, you can use online apps for video chat while they camp on your land. I also think that if you really want actual health and safety advice, you should talk to a medical provider, and if you have concerns that your daughter may violate DC's order, you can get her a lawyer (MeFi Wiki).
posted by katra at 5:52 PM on May 2, 2020 [3 favorites]

I'm going to take a slightly different tack here.

By agreeing to let them come (particularly as a stated reason for coming is your daughter needs emotional support) I think you've basically said "I'm willing to take the risk that I might get sick in order to see you."

I think, given that they are only staying or a week (?? which seems weird. If your daughter has lost her job, why not just continue to stay with you?), that you need to assume that they have it and are going to pass it to you and prepare to quarantine yourselves at home (no trips out) for 14 days or more past their arrival.

Camping in Vt in May, with one person doing WFH, is really a non starter.

So, now you have to consider what steps you'll need to take if you do get sick, and prepare accordingly. Assume you'll get sick 5 - 14 days after they arrive, and that you're all infected as soon as they arrive, and plan from there. What food do you need? Extra meds? Gas the car? Toiletries?

Because there really isn't any way for you to isolate from them in the situation you describe.
posted by anastasiav at 7:38 PM on May 2, 2020 [20 favorites]

The best thing would be for them to make every effort to get tested.
posted by daikon at 9:30 PM on May 2, 2020 [4 favorites]

I’m a fan of the camping idea, but if they can’t/won’t and absolutely have to be indoors with you, I would:

- have them change their clothes and shoes outside and leave them in a bag outside;
- try to stay much farther than 6 feet from them at all times, especially indoors. If eating together—or doing anything together, for that matter—do it in different rooms so you can be as far from each other as possible;
- have separate dishes and utensils for them;
- if possible, have a separate sink for them;
- prepare bleach solution and make sure you each have your own bottles of it, along with your own paper towel rolls, to disinfect everything after they’ve used anything and before you use it (so you will be double disinfecting, just in case). That includes the tub and any door handles; and
- have them do their own laundry (including hand towels, dish towels, bath towels, and sheets) if it needs to be done.

As others have mentioned above, short of having them quarantine for 14 days, you should assume that you will get sick. Not to be alarmist, but to be prepared. So I would act as if I knew I was going to get COVID-level sick within a few days of their arrival (though it could take two weeks) by doing the following:

- preparing and freezing easy-to-eat food like porridges, soups, and smoothies in bulk now before you start feeling too sick to make food;
- making sure you have a working thermometer and rubbing alcohol ready;
- making sure you’re signed up for and know how to get an appointment with telehealth doctors;
- bookmarking your state/city’s local what-to-do-if-you-think-you-have-COVID page;
- listing your insurance info, emergency contacts, allergies and any medications you take on a sheet you can take with you if you need to go to a hospital; and
- buying some acetaminophen and Mucinex (or other cough medicine) if you don’t have it already.
posted by saltypup at 10:48 PM on May 2, 2020 [4 favorites]

I am worried for you because given that they made this non-debatable decision because they prioritize her need for emotional support over your need for physical survival, you can establish any protocols you want in your own home but you can't force them to follow them.

Since they are coming no matter what and only staying a week, you might see if there's somewhere you could go to wait them out. this is impractical but the only option still under your control and not theirs. leave them the keys and the run of the place and go visit a friend a hundred miles away with a spare basement or separate suite, if you're lucky enough to know one. Or you could be the ones to camp out, if you can tolerate it.
posted by queenofbithynia at 12:02 AM on May 3, 2020 [6 favorites]

The best thing would be for them to make every effort to get tested.

this is entirely possible in the DC area at the moment. If they make a genuine effort, they will succeed. though I don't know how long it takes to get results.
posted by queenofbithynia at 12:04 AM on May 3, 2020

They should get a test.

Barring that i can’t see much other than limiting time in the room with them, maintaining space, keeping windows open, enforcing masks in the house, lots and lots of disinfecting surfaces.

Do not make them camp, that’s silly to me.

Just be mindful of how long you’re sharing space and do NOT touch your face/rub your eyes/rub your nose. Your face is lava as soon as they arrive.

Also, be mindful of your cellphone and how many times it gets touched.

A CDC mixture of diluted bleach should be in a spray bottle in all rooms with cloths or paper towels ready to wipe things down frequently.
posted by christiehawk at 12:20 AM on May 3, 2020 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Update and clarification. My daughters job ends in July. It was an excellent first real job and she is sad about losing it. We checked into testing here. it is available, but you need a physician referral.

They arrived last night and it turns out tis trip is also abut seeing friends who are also up visiting parents. They seem to be unaware of the amount of risk that they have brought with them.

We will muddle through this and I will do the best I can. I will be masked when face to face with them. My wife isn't. They have their own bathroom except for showers.

I truly appreciate all the suggestions and will utilize those I can. May the force be with us.
posted by Xurando at 5:30 AM on May 3, 2020

Best answer: Xurando, I'm sorry your kid is this dumb. Lots of kids are. Sometimes their brains take a little longer to grow. Assuming that they are going to continue to treat your health as a secondary concern to their comfort while they're living in your home, here's what you should do:

1) As much as possible, ventilate your house. Keep windows open whenever possible. A good non-air-conditioner air flow will help dissipate possible virus particles in the air.

2) I assume hugging has already happened. Families are like that! Don't do it anymore. You've done your round of greetings, now keep your distance. Don't touch them if you can avoid it; if you can't avoid it, wash your hands and face immediately after.

3) If you're spending time in the same room, assign seating. Keep to your spots. Don't share coasters. Don't go sit where your daughter or her boyfriend usually sit; don't let them sit where you and your wife usually sit.

4) Wipe down everything with soapy water or bleach/disinfectant wipes on a regular basis.

5) Don't share dishes/utensils if you can avoid it. If you can't, wash them thoroughly, like you would wash your hands. Don't share any food from their utensils, bowls, plates. Don't drink after them.

6) They should do their own laundry. That includes everything. Sheets, too. They should strip their bed and wash the bed clothes before they leave, and leave everything in the dryer.

7) Don't go into the room where they will be living and sleeping - not while they are there, and not for at least 2 weeks after they're gone.

I'm sure there's a bunch of stuff I haven't thought of, but I feel like this is a good start for the situation you're in. It's not ideal. It's not safe. But it's something.

I would also propose this: 8) Have a talk with your kid while she's there, and explain to her how much her behavior is endangering you, and how it makes you feel to know she doesn't respect your health and safety. It will be a hard talk, and she may resent you for it. That's fine. That's how kids learn things.

Best of luck!
posted by invincible summer at 7:27 AM on May 3, 2020 [8 favorites]

Best answer: Oh God I am so sorry. Your daughter is not handling this well. It is super reckless and irresponsible for her to visit you, and to visit with friends while she's with you. As katra pointed out upthread, she is violating the DC stay-at-home order. Ugh.

It's reasonably likely there won't be any consequences (that nobody will get sick & she won't get charged/fined) but if so that is just luck, and in no way diminishes the immorality of what she's doing.

So. If I were you, yes I would follow protocols like the ones suggested upthread, but with the awareness that they're unlikely to help much, given that i) your wife won't wear a mask, ii) you're all using the same shower, and iii) your daughter is just doing whatever random thing she wants. I think you should talk with your wife about whether you could agree to forbid your daughter re-entry if she leaves the house while she's staying with you. Because that's just beyond the pale: it puts your local community at heightened risk and violates the Vermont stay-at-home order. (I don't understand why your daughter seems to think those orders don't apply to her.)

But really where I would put my attention is, I would want to have a serious conversation with the whole family about the general issue. That this is a pandemic, that there are stay-at-home orders and protocols for a reason, that we all need to do our part to protect other people as best we can. You could try making the analogy to drunk driving, you could explain to your daughter that she may be asymptomatic and still a carrier, you could ask her to imagine how bad she would feel if she infected you or your wife and God forbid, you died. (You might also want to help her understand that if you or your wife gets sick, nobody will ever know for sure how it happened. Even if it wasn't your daughter's fault, there will be no way for her to know that.)

If you could manage to get everybody on the same page, or even closer to being on the same page, that could ultimately make a big difference. Because if your daughter behaves like this for the next year or two, until there's a vaccine, she could cause a lot of damage to a lot of people.

You're her parent so I think you have an obligation to try to change how she handles this. And it sounds like you may be alone in doing that. I'm really sorry.
posted by Susan PG at 7:33 AM on May 3, 2020 [12 favorites]

Can you rent an RV and have them stay in that instead of in your house?
posted by Jacqueline at 1:18 PM on May 3, 2020

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