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Infectious Disease

Keep your social circle small - very small!

With cases rising in Alaska, we should all shrink our social bubbles. This is especially important for those who are at high risk for serious illness from COVID-19 but it's good guidance for all Alaskans right now due to community transmission occurring throughout our state.

You can still visit with others but be outside if you can and always keep six feet apart from anyone who is not in your close trusted household bubble. Wear a mask, especially if you're in a space where it's difficult to keep six feet apart.It's time to shrink your social bubble!

Who is in your bubble?

Some Alaskans are wondering how much socializing is reasonable if we hope to continue to prevent the spread of COVID-19. As we head into winter, with our cases rising and everyone about to spend more time indoors where we know the virus can more easily spread, Alaskans need to make extra efforts to crush the curve of COVID-19. Keeping our social circles small is critical. Answering the call from a contact tracer is just as important if you or someone close to you tests positive for the virus.

Sometimes your bubble isn't as small as you think it is.

You can help prevent COVID from spreading by keeping track of your close interactions with others in case you get sick and others need to be notified. Dr. Zink, Alaska's Chief Medical Officer, is urging Alaskans to voluntarily keep track of their social interactions as restrictions continue to ease:

An explanation of the bubble concept and a sample tracking worksheet is available in our press release and more information is available in the Play Every Day blog:

Your bubble during Phase 2

In Phase 2 of the Reopen Alaska Responsibly Plan, gatherings of fewer than 50 people are allowed as long as non-household members remain 6 feet apart.

But what about having dinner with one other household at your home, watching your friend’s children or allowing your children to play with their cousins or the children of your closest friend? What level of social interaction is currently considered safe?

Generally, and according to the state’s mandates, Alaskans are expected to keep at least 6 feet from all non-household members. However, in some cases, if a stronger support network is needed, Alaskans may begin to expand their social circle to include just a few others. 

Once linked, the individuals within an expanded social bubble can visit each other’s homes, share meals, care for one another, help with home projects or go on recreational outings together. Children within that enlarged bubble may play with each other in close proximity, indoors or outdoors. 

Outside that trusted bubble, all household members still must keep at least six feet apart from non-household members. Another important point is that once a household has expanded its bubble to include others, the members within that bubble need to remain consistent. You should not choose to include two new members one week, and then substitute one of those members for someone else the following week.

Jogging together

Maintain a small bubble for now. Include others cautiously. Pick a workout buddy or jogging partner and exercise with the same person consistently. Alaska’s lead doctors strongly recommend wearing masks while playing sports, exercising.

Family and friends

Create an agreement with another trusted household for more social support. Keep your bubble small and consistent. Outside your bubble, keep staying 6 feet away from other.

Joining with another household or just one or two individuals allows parents and caregivers to take turns caring for children, provides children with more opportunities to play and socialize with other children, and will help ease loneliness and provide improved social support for those who have felt isolated.

Vulnerable apart

Some people may need to keep their social bubbles small. Individuals at high risk for serious illness or those whose work brings them in contact with high risk individuals may not want to expand their social bubbles at all to minimize exposure to others.

If Alaskans choose to expand their social bubble, they will need to first consider their risk for serious illness from COVID-19. Those most at risk, such as those 65 or older or people with an ongoing health condition will need to be the most restrictive, keeping their bubbles as tight as possible to prevent spreading infection into the group.

Know the risks

The larger the group, the more socialization can occur, but with that comes added risk. If one person in the group becomes sick, that person will need to be isolated from the remainder of the household and everyone else who is not ill will need to remain quarantined, assuming close contacts occurred with the sick individual.

If you’re trying to decide to host or attend a social gathering, consider this flowchart: