The lockdown came with lots of dos and don't for commercial activity—who had to close, how to act if you were open. Social activity, however, was one big "don't," a draconian standard that led many to cheat. Are more realistic guidelines available? —Our Previous Column
Last week, Evan W. asked how irate he should be about his neighbors' maskless garden parties. From this, I adroitly pivoted to a larger question, which I then failed to answer: In a world where going to PetSmart for dog sweaters is allowed, shouldn't there also be some wiggle room in the blanket "no social visits" prohibition?
The day after that column appeared, the governor's office revised this very policy. The free press—what can't it do? (Tune in June 24, 2169, when I'll use my awesome power to blot out the sun!) The new guidelines permit social and recreational gatherings of up to 10 people.
To be clear, this is not a green light for naked Twister or an all-body-fluids Slip 'N Slide. You still need to practice social distancing—stay 6 feet apart, sanitize surfaces often, and don't offer anyone a sip of your beer.
The epidemiologically hip may observe it is not actually any safer to have people over now than it was May 14, and many folks I've talked to are in no hurry to have people over.
Perhaps that's because there's a reason we were tougher on social interactions than retail activity: You're more likely to infect friends and family with a contagious virus than you are strangers.
We laymen tend to think of infectious disease as a sort of high-stakes cooties that can be passed from one person to another in an instant: Tag, you're dead!
Viral contagions, however, usually require a certain minimum dose of virus to develop into a full-blown infection. The longer you spend in close contact with an infected person, the more likely you are to reach that dose.
Now, as convenient as you may find Fred Meyer's bulk section, you're probably not going to corner one of its stock boys for an hour to tell him that, seriously, you really love him, man. At a house party, though, it's a different ballgame. Just be careful out there, OK?