The timing of the omicron spike was hard on everyone, but I felt especially bad about how it impacted Lily (7y) and Anna (5y). For months we had been telling them that while they couldn't do various things they would be able to do them once they were fully vaccinated, and then two weeks—almost to the day—after their second shots Omicron hit our area. So, with the Omicron spike past us, it was really nice for them to be able to have their first indoor playdate with classmates yesterday.

We, and their classmates parents, were ok with it because of how covid has progressed here:

Statewide Cases (MA DPH):

Boston Wastwater Data (MWRA):

The trend is a bit clearer on a log scale, where you can tell that levels are continuing to fall quickly:

Since Covid has been seasonal, similar diseases are also seasonal, and the pattern makes some sense, I expect levels will continue their decline, and stay low until next fall.

In addition to indoor playdates, here are some other things we're doing differently:

  • Hosting indoor gatherings: we're hosting an EA dinner next weekend (2/13). (We also hosted one just just before the Omicron spike, but we're not doing rapid tests this time.)

  • Organizing contra dances: the first BIDA contra dance since 2020 is in two weeks (2/20).

  • Planning international travel: we're going to the UK in late April.

On the other hand, we are still making some covid-related changes to our behavior, beyond what's required:

  • Nora (7m) is still quite young, in addition to being unvaccinated. While she's past the most vulnerable period and at this point her risks from getting sick are low, they will likely be even lower soon and levels are still falling quickly. We're not generally taking her indoors places if it's avoidable; for example, we wouldn't bring her along to go shopping.

  • Only vaccinated guests. We aren't having anyone over unless they are fully vaccinated (or too young to be), and we also wouldn't go over to a friend's house unless the people there were too.

  • Masks for large gatherings. For a dance like BIDA this is a local regulation, but for the EA dinner we could have chosen not to. This is a combination of trying to reduce risk and let more cautious people attend.

  • Not going to restaurants. This wasn't something we did very often pre-covid anyway, but since takeout is an option (and it doesn't require childcare) the marginal enjoyment of eating out doesn't feel like it outweighs the (small) risk.

I think it's pretty likely that sometime in the Spring levels will be low enough that we will be able to relax on most of these as well, but we'll think about that closer to the time.

Related: if you want to visit, either by coming over for dinner or after the kids go to bed, let me know?

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Which parts of this - e.g, the charts - did you use to explain to Lily and Anna why it took longer, if any, or what did you use instead?

We told them that there was a new kind of coronavirus that was much better at infecting people who have been vaccinated. I also showed them the charts and tried to explain how they worked, though I don't think that fully sunk in.

I have found that kids can learn relatively early how charts work if they mean something to them. For example, we had daily "how did the day go for you" with happy/neutral/sad smileys that would evolve into a chart. Or their weekly calendar. Or illustrating growth trends with gestures or sketches. We also have a big whiteboard in the living room.   

Things that might be confusing about the charts:

  • The lines going across in the second chart make it eslightly asier to eyeball the number for a point along the curve. The first chart doesn't have this.
  • 'What does copies per mL mean?'*
  • Having the north and south plots together.**

*It might make more sense if you had, say, a plot of probable cases broken down by north and south, based on the data (as a guess). The obvious thing to connect cases to is population. (And maybe a sum showing 'people who have had covid so far'[1] - this is more important if the risk of re-infection is lower, and that info is helpful for predicting spread falling at or below a certain level at a certain time (like '2 months from now, things will be better (if another strain doesn't show up.')

[1] Of course if people move around this is harder to tell. The actual number could be lower or higher.

**But for simplicity, combining both together into one chart might be more understandable.


Simpler approach: percentage/fraction breakdown of cases (including past, but people got better) to explain where the pandemic is at now. (Contact tracing wise - it might easier to tell a story if you could say stuff like

a) a lot of people got it at the grocery store on Tuesday

b) (maybe comparing to overall spread, and going through how it's changed over time) - this person we know got it on this day at school, and there's a lot of people at school which is why cases went up


Of course it might not be possible to break things down that finely, and you might not know who you know who got it, and when, and want to share that.)

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