My partner and I are recovering from COVID. When we're all better, is there any reason we can't host a maskless makeout party for everyone we know who's also had the virus and recovered? The damage is done, right? —Cabin Feverish
I imagine one of the toughest things about being a public health official—aside from being expected to listen politely while sixth-grade dropouts tell you smallpox was a hoax—is constantly having to inform people that stuff they like is bad for them.
Whether it's smoking, staying drunk for a week, or having unprotected sex in the back of a cop car, for every joy in life it seems there's a concerned expert ready to take away the meth bowl—for our own good—just when the party is getting started.
Unfortunately, staging a naked Twister tournament for 200 of your closest friends right now falls in that category. Probably. It's not entirely clear, because right now no one really knows how long naturally acquired immunity (the kind you get from having the disease) will last.
"This virus has only been with us for about a year," says Multnomah County health officer Dr. Jennifer Vines, "and we're still learning about questions like what happens when you are infected again [and] how long you are protected after infection."
To people who think it's prima facie obvious that all immunity must be for life (I'm looking at you, Sen. Rand Paul), recall that common colds are caused by coronaviruses (albeit less virulent ones) and we get those over and over.
At the moment, opinions—even those of experts—vary as to how serious a problem reinfection may become. (The scientific method may be the best thing we have going for us as a civilization, but reaching clear, unerring conclusions with blinding speed is not exactly its strong suit.)
"So far, reinfection with the virus seems to be rare," says Vines, "and the cases that are reported are of mild illness, not worse."
That said, if you are reinfected with a mild or asymptomatic case and you've stopped taking precautions because you're Rand Paul, you could be infecting the rest of us without knowing it.
I understand your rebellious, self-destructive itch, Feverish—do I ever—but for now you'll have to scratch it the old-fashioned way, by staying drunk for a week. See you on Zoom!
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