Expanding your social circle during coronavirus

Expanding your social circle during coronavirus Photo: NBC News Channel.

Created: July 10, 2020 03:10 PM

(NBCNC) — As the coronavirus pandemic continues, more and more Americans are looking at expanding their stay-at-home social circles to include additional friends and family members.

Experts say it can benefit mental health... But it's important to figure out the right fit for families.. And set some ground rules.


A recent survey from Johns Hopkins University of U.S. adults found nearly 14% reported signs of serious psychological distress, up nearly 10% compared to two years ago.

One of the possible factors is loneliness.

"We definitely need that social interaction and as someone with two young children, I want to talk to other adults," Dr. Sadiya Khan of Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine said.

The time may be right for some families to begin carefully expanding their COVID bubbles if they're in an area where cases aren't spiking.

"The main and most important thing is trying to identify people who share similar practices to you," Dr. Khan said.

Have open, honest conversations, keeping in mind any conditions that might place someone in a "higher risk" category.

Make sure everyone is on the same page as far as wearing masks, social distancing, and leaving the house.

"Are you limiting it to essential places, like are you going to the grocery store?” Dr. Khan said. “If you are working outside the home, what are the restrictions in place at your work environment?"

Decide what to do if someone in the bubble is exposed to the virus, or if a routine changes.

Health experts say if you're in a virus hot spot, you likely want to hold off on expanding your bubble, or agree members should be tested before getting together as a percentage of patients never experience symptoms.

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