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How to create a COVID-19 social pod

In the age of COVID-19, social distancing is important – but so are social connections.

Although maintaining relationships can feel difficult right now, they’re still critical for mental health and well-being. That’s why some people are forming COVID-19 social pods, also known as “quaranteams.”

These small groups provide a safer way to socialize with people outside your household, explains Piedmont infection prevention director Jenay Beshears.

“You commit to one another that you’re not going to do anything that is harmful, expose you, or put you at higher risk for getting COVID,” she says.

Why should I create a pod?

Months into the COVID-19 pandemic, social distancing and masks have become part of life. Prolonged disruptions to social routines can take a serious mental health toll, Beshears says.

If you feel comfortable seeing people from outside your household, pods could boost your emotional well-being. By allowing you to spend time with others in a controlled setting, the pods can help you socialize while staying safer.

Remember: No pod is perfectly airtight. You should still take precautions when seeing people, like wearing masks and practicing social distancing.

Who can be in a COVID pod?

Different pods fit different needs. For example, Beshears says, parents who homeschool their children this fall could create an education pod with other families. This way, adults share some responsibilities while allowing children to socialize.

She’s also seeing pods for friends and extended family cropping up. If you have older children who don’t live with you, you could create a group with them and their families to facilitate safer gatherings.

There’s no fixed rule for pod sizes, Beshears adds, but she recommends limiting groups to no more than 15 people.

What rules should a COVID pod follow?

This part is mostly up to you, Beshears says. Decide which guidelines matter most to you and your family, then build your pod based on those.

“It’s getting that group of people together that you trust,” Beshears says.

Some rules you may want to apply for your pod include:

  • Wearing masks in public
  • Avoiding time indoors with people outside the pod
  • Limiting activities like travel and indoor dining at restaurants  

Ultimately, it’s up to you to decide how strict your group should be. The key factors for any successful pod, Beshears says, are trust and communication.

“You commit to each other,” she says. “It’s making that pact that you’re doing what you need to do to stay safe.”

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