yet another should we...? covid NYC edition
December 18, 2021 8:00 AM   Subscribe

my parents, fully vaxxed and boosted 60 and 63 year old parents are entirely undeterred from their plan to drive from illinois to NYC for a holiday visit with me in New York City, where the hottest club right now is the line for covid tests.

They also had covid after thanksgiving last year, not such intense cases, and fully recovered.

They were supposed to stay in a friend's house while they were out of town. That whole family has come down with covid, so now they intend to stay with me. We have uncancellable reservations to a $$$ dinner cruise and some tickets to a broadway show
and hard to get (but free) reservations to the comedy cellar.

presently i am waiting in a line around the block for a rapid test, and experiencing uncomfortable whiplash induced ptsd deja vu from march 2020, when the positivity rates were much lower, and i didn't know anyone firsthand who'd gotten infected yet. At this moment, I know many. all vaxed and boosted and under 40, mostly with symptoms of a bad cold (so far. it's early!)

there is much we don't know, it's not 2020 we are all as vaxxed as we can be. My parents say they've thought about the risk:reward and they are cool with it. I'm pretty anxious about that conclusion, acknowledging that so far it seems omnicrom is perhaps not so severe. but there is much we don't know. The rockettes cancelled the christmas spectacular, and restaurants are closing for breakthrough cases but there's no guidance from anybody saying don't travel from state to state the way there was last year. i doubt any of our tickets or reservations will be cancelled.

what would you do in my case? have any articles that would calm my nerves or convince my parents the other way is safer?
posted by wowenthusiast to Human Relations (23 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
We have uncancellable reservations to a $$$ dinner cruise

Is the dining indoors on this? (I'm assuming that's the case given the time of year, but maybe not?) I don't feel comfortable making absolute statements about anything else, but I'd really pass on anything where I need to be both unmasked and surrounded by other people who are unmasked while indoors, or even outdoors without some decent spacing. (Some people act like being unmasked for eating is somehow less dangerous, like the virus doesn't infect you if you're performing a critical function like eating and it's fine if you just put your mask back on when you're done, but I don't think the virus got the memo.)
posted by trig at 8:11 AM on December 18, 2021 [15 favorites]

Response by poster: the dinner cruise seemed like a great idea for a 40th anniversary present after we all got boosted in october. 🤦🏼‍♀️
posted by wowenthusiast at 8:14 AM on December 18, 2021

Also, it might help to know what your parents' main hopes and motivations are for this trip. To see you? To do stuff in NYC?

Do you get to see each other often?
posted by trig at 8:15 AM on December 18, 2021

How is the access to rapid test kits where they live?

It sounds like New York has a shortage.

However, your parents might be able to get their hands on a supply of home rapid test kits, so they can test themselves before travel, and y'all can test yourselves regularly during the visit. If anyone kicks up a positive, stay home.

In my community, libraries and the county health department are giving away Binax kits, you just have to keep an eye on their Facebook announcements.
posted by champers at 8:22 AM on December 18, 2021 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: we saw eachother somewhat recently, but haven't ever had christmas in new york, which the we're looking forward to, and they're excited to meet my boyfriend i think.
posted by wowenthusiast at 8:23 AM on December 18, 2021

I'm on the very cautious side so I wouldn't do the trip at all. But there are degrees of caution. A driving-not-flying trip to see you, where you do lower-risk activities outdoors and spend family time together at home and meet your partner, might be a reasonable choice that an older couple might decide is worth it for them at this point in the pandemic. But hours-long indoor events, particularly ones where people will be unmasked, is a step up in risk. I'd seriously consider eating the cost of the cruise and shows and pivot your plans to outdoor activities and spending time together at home.
posted by Stacey at 8:56 AM on December 18, 2021 [15 favorites]

How's the hospital situation there in NYC? They are overflowing elsewhere.

Even if none of you catch Covid, any accident is much more deadly now, bc an injury that had a good prognosis in 2019 will kill you if you can't get proper care.
posted by SaltySalticid at 9:02 AM on December 18, 2021 [1 favorite]

I would do it if you're all fully vaxxed and boosted. Wear masks and take precautions when you're in public, skip indoor dining and any crowded indoor spaces.

I am of the opinion that after doing all we can to protect ourselves, at this point we must live our lives. It's been almost two years. It could drag on for many more variants. What if next year it's worse? I'm driving 1000 miles to visit my family this year because right now I know everyone is recently boosted and there is no evidence Omicron is producing a worse disease. I know my family members and I, all healthy and boosted adults, are not going to get seriously ill.

For context: I was first in line for all the shots, spent an entire year at home (not even grocery trips) until I was fully vaccinated. I feel that my behavior has been logical and on the cautious side for the entirety of the pandemic. And, I will say, we're going to get tested before visiting my 99 year old grandmother, and will probably not give her a hug.
posted by something something at 9:26 AM on December 18, 2021 [20 favorites]

In your shoes I would go forward with the trip, but skip all of the activities you have planned. Cook (or order) delicious food, watch movies, walk around the city and look at the Christmassy things. The subway is probably fine (I’m still taking it) if you all have good masks. It’s a risk and the timing couldn’t be worse, but it will probably be ok.
posted by cakelite at 9:29 AM on December 18, 2021 [7 favorites]

I'm your parents' age, and I wouldn't personally do it because I'm immuncompromised, but at this point, I totally get where they're coming from. One thing I'm noticing is that people my age are just dying now from all sorts of things that aren't COVID - heart attacks, stroke, cancer. When my high school Facebook page announces a death of one of my classmates, it no longer feels like a shock, though of course, it's sad. That is a big change for me in the last ten years, and your parents may be feeling it and may not want to be direct about it with you (I don't with my own kids because I worry about it sounding whiney and manipulative like "you don't know how long I'm going to be around"). I haven't seen my kids or grandkids since this started, and I'm starting to feel like I just need to figure out a way to make that happen even at some risk.

One of the people on my cancer board has announced plans to go on a cruise, and my first response was OMG are you kidding me? But she outlined the precautions the cruise is taking and said she thinks it as safe as a trip to the local supermarket. She is also in her 80s, and she said she thinks that changes the calculations some. I've never understood why people go on cruises except for to Antarctica, so I don't know much about them really, but some people truly love them. I still wouldn't do it, but I've become a lot less judgey - except about people not getting vaccinated. Sometimes I can be compassionate about it, but mostly I feel like those people can fuck right off.
posted by FencingGal at 10:07 AM on December 18, 2021 [12 favorites]

You mentioned your parents had covid last thanksgiving. From what I understand, vaxxed, boosted and previously infected people have the highest immunity (although the data is still pending for omicron). What are your main concerns with the trip, aside from general covid anxiety? Are you worried they will get sick? Are you worried for yourself/boyfriend? You should weigh these specific concerns against how important it is to see your parents. Would they/you be satisfied just to see them, without doing “Christmas in NYC” things? Because it doesn’t have to be either/or.
posted by bluloo at 10:18 AM on December 18, 2021 [3 favorites]

So I followed your link to the cruise, and the key details are: 1) the eating looks to be indoors 2) up to 150 people and 3) they require vaccination but not boosters. And as of an article I read 5 days ago, only 29% of Americans are boosted. I'm personally of the mind that older people need to live their lives as they could die soon for other reasons (as others have mentioned), but I'd say being inside, unmasked for a 3-course meal, with up to 150 people would be a no-go for me right now.

But I'd still do the broadway show, assuming patrons need to be masked/vaccinated and the actors are being regularly tested. The comedy cellar would depend on how many people will be there, and what portion would be drinking (I'm assuming most if there is a 2 drink minimum?). Maybe you could just go for an hour, masked the entire time? But in any case, there are lots of outdoor activities in NYC (looking at the holiday window displays are often fun for out-of-towners), a museum could be a good masked/distanced indoor activity, and there is lots of good take-out you could treat yourself too - basically, I agree that I'd let your parents still visit you, but just modify the types of activities you do.
posted by coffeecat at 11:15 AM on December 18, 2021 [4 favorites]

Broadway shows are getting canceled at this point.
posted by jenfullmoon at 12:12 PM on December 18, 2021 [5 favorites]

  • they are as prepared as they can be - vax, boost, recovered. So they probably have both medically-induced and natural immunity. Odds are pretty good they are well protected from the immune standpoint.
  • NYC does seem to have a rising number of cases ... so they would be moving from a relatively lower case density area into a higher case density area
  • they aren't "elderly" (very high risk) but they aren't "children" (almost no risk). They are in kind of the "high-average" age range of risk.
  • How is their overall health, in particular their metabolic health? If one or both have type II diabetes or prediabetes, kidney disease, COPD, heart disease, or other chronic condition, that jacks up their risk considerably?
(Speaking personally, if I were in their shoes, I would definitely do it, but that assumes a lack of significant comorbidities.)
posted by theorique at 12:18 PM on December 18, 2021 [2 favorites]

Seconding FencingGal's sentiment to not be overly judgey including towards yourself whatever decision you end up making. I think a huge number of families are going through these decisions and the associated anxiety right now, and most people's situations certainly fall in the gray-zone. Even on some NPR podcasts I listen to recently, which have been very precautionary in the past, I have been hearing guests advise to proceed with your holiday plans as you'd like (assuming not absolutely massive indoor gatherings or majorly unvaccinated groups), but adding in some extra precautions like rapid-tests when possible. I'm currently personally still worried about the risks for my family and a few others getting together over Christmas, but we're doing rapid tests day-of, and mostly boosted at this point.

If I were in your situation, I would personally have them still visit, possibly cancel the boat cruise unless you can find a way to make everyone feel comfortable (e.g., there seems to be an outdoor section in the photos? although I imagine being outdoors in current weather for extended periods wouldn't be enjoyable anyway). With everything else, if you stay fully masked and agree that you might back out if any facilities are cramming people together, the risk is probably relatively low.
posted by unid41 at 12:56 PM on December 18, 2021 [4 favorites]

god, no. Nope. If the answer to "I did X thing and I have a debilitating illness for the rest of my life because of it" is not overwhelmingly "it was worth it", the best answer is no. (For what it's worth I think there are a few things in that category - like seeing a loved one for the last time, maybe).
posted by todolos at 1:56 PM on December 18, 2021 [4 favorites]

This latest variant is changing very quickly so I think you need to keep a close eye on the daily numbers, they will look very different even in just 5 days time. Possibly higher or lower, every wave of covid has had a sharp peak.

For me new daily confirmed case numbers that are over 100 (per 100k population) is the point where I cancel all social events and just stay in and watch TV.
The UK has just passed this point, NY is currently 64 (Dec 17th).
For every confirmed case there are likely several asymptomatic/untested cases and with those remaining infectious for around 10 days means at least 1 in 100 people are going to be carriers.
posted by Lanark at 4:40 PM on December 18, 2021 [1 favorite]

I think with all those activities, one or more of you will contract Covid. Do you have room in your place for one or more people to quarantine for two weeks?

You could reduce risk and cut some activities but it's like wondering if wildfires burning around the town will burn your house. You don't know!
posted by credulous at 4:59 PM on December 18, 2021 [3 favorites]

If you're in NYC waiting for a rapid test while you post, I'm assuming you may already have it, which would probably change the plans as is.

If you have your relatives visit, I wouldn't do any of the fun NYC plans you had in mind and bought nonrefundable anything for, though. Sounds like all of that is indoors and highly likely to get canceled by the time they get there anyway. Either way you may just want to waste those hundreds of dollars you already spent at this point and just go walking outside and otherwise stay inside your place spending time together.
posted by jenfullmoon at 6:17 PM on December 18, 2021 [1 favorite]

The people I referenced as going on a cruise just cancelled because of omicron.
posted by FencingGal at 7:19 PM on December 18, 2021 [2 favorites]

Do you have room in your place for one or more people to quarantine for two weeks?

I want to emphasize this. A drive back from NYC to IL while sick with COVID will range from un-fun to impossible.

there's no guidance from anybody saying don't travel from state to state the way there was last year.

I think we're exceedingly unlikely to see any such travel advisory (or any government-ordered lockdowns) for purely political reasons. That is to say, even if there were extremely sound public health reasons to issue such an order, I don't think they'll ever happen again in this country for COVID because no one in power has the political will.
posted by Conrad Cornelius o'Donald o'Dell at 1:41 PM on December 20, 2021 [2 favorites]

Best answer: ugh we shouldn't have.
we have covid
posted by wowenthusiast at 3:59 PM on December 23, 2021

Oh no! Hope it's a mild and painless case.
posted by theorique at 5:27 PM on December 23, 2021 [1 favorite]

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