how was your week?

949 New York Readers on Summer Travel and Quarantine Pods

‘Feels like we are in a swingers group.’

Photo: Noam Galai/Getty Images
Photo: Noam Galai/Getty Images

New York continued its gradual loosening of pandemic restrictions this week, with nine out of ten regions having met the criteria for the first phase of reopening. And in hopeful news for residents in the epicenter of the outbreak, Governor Cuomo announced that the New York City region is on track to begin the process in the week of June 8. Meanwhile, the CDC released updated guidelines for the return to office buildings and Mayor de Blasio cautioned subway and bus riders that they will need to “improvise” when they resume use of public transit. Here’s how 949 New York readers were doing this week — and how they’re thinking about adjusting their quarantine guidelines.

Do you know anyone who has tested positive?

No: 32.8%
Yes: 67.2%

Do you know anyone who has been hospitalized because of it?

No: 62.2%
Yes: 37.8%

Do you, or anyone you know, think you might have it but can’t get tested?

No: 74.3%
Yes: 25.7%

How would you describe your emotional state right now?

Very anxious and/or scared: 13.8%
Somewhat anxious and/or scared: 34.5%
Concerned: 37.6%
Slightly concerned: 10.4%
Totally fine: 3.8%

Do you, or anyone in your household, fear that your work puts you at significant risk of contracting the virus?

No: 72%
Yes: 28%

How often are you leaving your home?

Not at all: 7.9%
Just for essential errands: 80.2%
I still have to leave for work, but I’m not making many other trips: 9.3%
I’m living my life as normal: 2.6%

Have you felt more comfortable leaving your home over the past few weeks?

No: 52.6%
Yes: 47.4%

Are you sheltering in place somewhere that’s not your primary residence?

No: 88.5%
Yes: 11.5%

If so, where are you staying?

A family member’s home: 60%
A friend’s home: 7%
A second home that you own: 9%
A short-term rental: 4%
A significant other’s home: 17%
Other: 3%

Has your employer reduced your pay since the outbreak began?

No: 53.3%
Yes: 18.7%
Not Applicable: 28%

If so, how much of a pay cut did you receive?

Less than 5%: 10.4%
5-10%: 20.8%
10-15%: 6.5%
15-20%: 15.6%
More than 20%: 46.8%

Have you lost work or had your hours reduced since the outbreak began?

No: 53.9%
Yes: 26.2%
Not Applicable: 19.9%

If you’ve lost work, have you applied for unemployment?

I’ve applied successfully: 40.5%
I’m trying to apply but cannot get through (site is crashing/ phone lines busy): 7.2%
I haven’t applied because I’m not sure if I am eligible: 18.9%
I haven’t applied for other reasons: 33.3%

Has anyone in your household applied for unemployment?

No: 78.7%
Yes: 17.8%
They’re trying to apply but can’t get through (site crashing/ phone lines busy): 3.5%

If you’re a New York resident, when do you think New York City will reopen?

June: 12.3%
July: 31.7%
August: 11.9%
September: 22%
October: 6.3%
November or later: 15.7%

How many of the following advances need to be made before you’d feel comfortable returning to public life?

• Comprehensive contact tracing around the country.
• Comprehensive contact tracing in my state.
• Readily available virus tests.
• Readily available antibody tests.
• Temperature checks at the entrances of businesses and offices.
• A vaccine.

The Five Most Common Responses:

Comprehensive contact tracing around the country, comprehensive contact tracing in my state, readily available virus tests, readily available antibody tests, temperature checks at the entrances of businesses and offices, and a vaccine: 16.5%

A vaccine: 9.8%

Comprehensive contact tracing around the country, comprehensive contact tracing in my state, readily available virus tests, readily available antibody tests, and a vaccine: 9.6%

Comprehensive contact tracing around the country, readily available virus tests, readily available antibody tests, and a vaccine: 4.3%

Comprehensive contact tracing in my state, readily available virus tests, readily available antibody tests, temperature checks at the entrances of businesses and offices, and a vaccine: 3.5%

Do you have a “quarantine pod” or “quarantine bubble” (a group of friends or family you’ve agreed to exclusively spend time with)?

No: 63.7%
Yes: 36.3%

If so, who is in your pod and what ground rules do you have?

“Five close friends and a woman I pretend is my girlfriend. No explicit rules, everyone is responsible. And we meet outdoors with appropriate distance. The ‘girlfriend’ comes over indoors, but everybody else is rooftop hangs.”

“Other couples who are still going to work. My husband is in health care, so we hang out with other people in health care. I’m a sex-crimes prosecutor, so I socialize with the other people I work with, since we can’t stay home.”

“I have four roommates and most of us seem to have one or two friends we see fairly often. Three of us have been on distance dates. Our policy seems to be ‘use your best judgement and don’t put your housemates at unnecessary risk.’ I did ask for explicit permission to kiss my date and was denied.”

“Two other families (one has no one else in their bubble and works from home, the other has a third family in their bubble, but works from home), our two sisters (both work from home). We share errand duties to minimize trips.”

“Neighbors from down the street. Rules are to properly social distance and let us know if they hang out with anyone else. Pretty lax. Feels like we are in a swingers group.”

“My two roommates and our partners. Also, we see my one roommate’s mom roughly once a week to work out together. And I have gone to see my parents as well. We are more worried about the third person in our house at the moment. His job has him traveling a lot, and he doesn’t seem to take precautions or take social distancing seriously. We have laid down some rules, and so he is not bringing friends over into our space, but he is still being social, and returning to the house.”

“My two best friends (engaged, living together) live right up the street so I can get to their apartment without contact with anything. They don’t come into contact with anyone else and neither do I, otherwise the deal would be off. Has saved my sanity.”

“A very small group of individuals who have been quarantined as I have and have tested negative for the virus. Number one rule: If you have been around unprotected individuals, you must advise the group so individual decisions can be made regarding further contact. Also, no hugging, and masks must be worn indoors, in public places, and where social distancing is not possible.”

“My significant other, and one other apartment of friends who are quarantining together. We wear masks in public and stay six feet apart when we see each other, even if we’re hanging out exclusively with each other.”

“Friends in a seven-block Manhattan area, we’re healthy, middle-aged and senior women. We meet once a week, always with masks in a small park and talk at a proper distance for around 90 minutes.”

“Two friends. Both already know to wear masks. Wash hands as soon as they come in. No sharing of food, i.e., communal snack bowl. Do not bring takeout bags in the living room (where we usually hang out, eat). Do not use napkins and utensils that came with the takeout. Wash hands after taking all food out of bag and discard bag in trash can.”

“Five other couples, though we are never all together at the same time. We are all isolating at home and only going out for essential services, fully masked and taking necessary precautions.”

“The pod consists of friends who are really strict about self-isolating. The rule is that to socialize in the main house, rather than six feet apart and in an outdoor setting, you must either have been in Maine since March OR been in a strict quarantine if you’re coming from NY or D.C. We have several houses on the property where friends from NY or D.C. can stay in quarantine for two weeks before coming into the main house.”

“My best friend and her husband. We haven’t established rules, but meet outside, stay six feet apart, and will not meet if any of us feel uncomfortable about it (for any reason from developing a sneeze to my friend seeing another friend). If this were a longer term situation I would want to develop rules but I’m leaving New York next month so it doesn’t feel worth it.”

“My 89-year-old mother, sister, and I have separate apartments in the same building. We only go to each other’s apartments. We don’t have any other visitors. We wear masks in the hallways and elevators. We wash/decontaminate hands upon entering apartments. I am the only one who drives. Except for once, I am the only one who goes on errands. I use the grocery store’s delivery/pickup service. We don’t do take-out meals. My other sister lives with her husband in their house. We do not visit them and they do not visit us.”

“So we’re working on figuring out how this will work in the coming months, but right now I consistently see the woman I share a kitchen with (we don’t share any other spaces in our house), my best friend who also is living alone involuntarily, and a close friend who lives alone voluntarily. I’ve only seen my housemate and my best friend without masks. I met up with a coworker who lives nearby for a socially distant walk recently and I get coffee from a local spot pretty much every day, so I see the owner a lot. The people I’m choosing to interact with are taking this very seriously and I trust that they’re washing their hands regularly, minimizing other direct contact, and taking other precautions. The majority of my time is spent alone these days, which is not in my nature.’

“A few very close friends who have houses and yards (we live in a downtown high-rise and our common outdoor spaces have been unavailable for months). We will bring our own food, drink, and chairs, and visit with friends in their backyard while we stay six feet apart.”

“There are 16 of us. Mostly retired. Limited contact with outsiders, if at all. We live in a village of 400 residents.”

“We haven’t started it yet, but we are this summer. It’s with two other families (two adults in each, two kids in each). It’s basically we’re the only people each other can see, and we’re only going on essential errands, and we’ll inform others if we go outside of the rules. We’re only doing outdoor activities together, but may reconsider.”

“A group of three friends one day a week — outdoors, good distance, separate food servings, utensils, etc. If forced indoors a bit tighter roughly five to six feet apart, fair ventilation. A group of six to ten friends one day a week (tomorrow!) — outdoors, BYOB, small packaged snacks, broad lawn, excess distance.

“My boyfriend and I, who live together and my best friend and her boyfriend, who live upstairs. And we’re still only hanging out on the roof with six feet apart.”

“Five of our closest friends. We only meet once/week and make sure to take our temperature and monitor for symptoms between meetings. Every week, a different person also gets an antibody test.”

“My spouse is a nurse and has worked with COVID patients, he has two friends who are also healthcare workers who have worked with COVID patients. Since we’ve all likely been exposed, them from their job and me from the fact I wasn’t able to quarantine away from my spouse, we occasionally see each other for short visits like dinner or [to] drop off birthday gifts, etc.”

“My neighbors in our seven-unit building are now a de facto quarantine bubble. Our bubble is porous and ill-defined. We just got lazy about distancing the full six feet, then started sharing food. We each have at least a couple other people we see, some distanced, some not. Definitely part of the #problem not the #solution, but at least we’d still win at contact tracing if needed.”

“Our direct neighbors. We do firepits and curbside cocktails. We all only leave for essential errands and have to use face masks when leaving the area. We try to keep a safe distance between each other when together and don’t enter each other’s homes. But the kids play together and we aren’t always six feet away from each other. We don’t wear face masks in our pod. It’s a total of 14 people.”

Are you planning any travel this summer (including sending kids to camp, flying or taking a road trip to visit family/friends, or renting a vacation house with family/friends)?

No: 66.9%
Yes: 33.1%

If so, what precautions will you take?

“We rented a house upstate for two weeks with its own pool and hiking on site, and then plan to go to a family home in Massachusetts for the rest of the summer. We’re driving and will try to bring a good amount of groceries with us from the city. We will likely live our life much like we do here: limited human contact, limited grocery trips. We’ll eventually have to live with some extended family, but it’s a risk we’re willing to take to get out of the city and get more space after staying in our small Brooklyn apartment for three months.”

“Our pod is planning to vacation in the woods at one roommate’s family cabin. And I also wish to go camping solo as well. I guess we feel that these are the safest kinds of vacations we can plan. We will definitely be disinfecting everything.”

“The fourth of July is a huge deal to my lake-dwelling parents. My 90-year-old grandma lives with them. My biggest concern is her getting sick. I haven’t seen them since late February/early March. I am waiting for the summer heat to set in, which won’t take this away but will slow the spread. On my drive up, I will make sure my car is full of gas so I do not need to stop (wearing mask and using gloves at the pump). Same with snacks — and foregoing a personal tradition of Panda Express takeout partway through my drive.”

“Moving to California and saved up to take business class for the space, although it’s definitely a huge hit to the budget. Saving the remaining Clorox wipes to sanitize the car we’ll need to take to the airport and the airplane seats themselves. Will absolutely be wearing a mask the entire time and using hand sanitizer obsessively.”

“Renting a one-month Airbnb to escape the city. Self-quarantining before we leave NYC. Wiping down our rental car and minimizing stops along the way. Only traveling as our family unit who lives together. Continuing ‘stay at home’ protocol once we arrive to our Airbnb. Masks worn outside, always.”

“Establishing a quarantine pod two to three weeks ahead of the trip (to Fire Island), then staying exclusively with our own group the whole time while there (… which sorta defeats the purpose of Fire Island, but whatever). Still considering canceling it altogether though, in part because the process of getting there involves multiple forms of transit.”

“Both my spouse and I will have to start traveling again for work this summer. We’ll use N95 masks and glasses on flights, disinfecting wipes on all surfaces we come in contact with (planes, rental cars, hotels, cameras, laptops, etc), frequent hand washing, social distancing with cloth masks when in public places, do as much work outdoors as possible, two week full quarantine when returning home.”

“I am flying. I will be wearing a mask the entire time - on the way to the airport, at the airport, on my flight, and until I arrive at my destination. I’m bringing hand sanitizer and wipes for the plane and my carry-on items. I don’t plan on eating or drinking anything during travel time (and if I must, I will be washing my hands frequently anyways). When I arrive at my destination (a family member’s home) I’m planning on showering immediately and sanitizing whatever possible (suitcase, carry-on, etc.).”

“Only traveling with two others who are also quarantining alone, renting a car instead of public transportation, rented a large house where we each have our own bedrooms and bathrooms, as well as a pool so we’ll be entertained just hanging out at the house versus needing to go anywhere.”

“We are probably going to stay with my sister for the summer because she has a big house with a yard; we’ve been in a studio apartment for ten weeks. We plan to get tested before we go and drive straight there and not leave her house once we arrive.”

“I am planning to see my parents, who live in New Jersey, and who I haven’t seen since early March. Our current plan is that we will all remain in our respective households for two weeks prior to a potential visit so if there are any signs of illness, we’ll know beforehand. We also plan to wear masks and stay distant while visiting, which is going to be heartbreaking. All I want to do is hug my mom, but I’m afraid of getting her sick.”

“We are driving to a family cabin in another state. There are very few cases there and we can easily practice social distancing. The big downside is that it’s a far drive and we will have to stay the night at a hotel on the way. We will wipe down the room before our kids go in, bring our own bedding, and not use any other facilities at the hotel. It will be really nice to have a change of scenery.”

“Will wear/bring masks and use sanitizer and frequent hand washing. I’ve been impressed with the precautions that hotels that are reopening are taking (some are doing temperature checks or leaving rooms unattended for 48 hours between visitors) so part of me feels like any place that is reopening for guests has done the work needed to make sure it’s a safe experience.”

“We plan to drive to Pensacola, Florida to see family but we are keeping an eye on their cases. We will get tested when we arrive and quarantine until we have our results or ten days have passed. While there we plan to continue wearing masks and practice social distancing and only leave for essentials. We want to stay safe.”

“We will continue to isolate except for essential errands in NYC, we’re also taking our temperatures daily. Once we return from visiting family in Massachusetts we will isolate completely for at least a week. One of my family members is a hospital employee, so we consider our biggest risk to be catching it from her and bringing it back to NYC.”

“We did this already. Traveled to family cabin in Maine for a week. Minimal stops and only at more rural areas miles off of 95. Did not stop in NJ or NY. Stopped at MD/DE border and again at CT/MA border for gas. We wear masks and maintain good hand hygiene. We plan to go again in July unless Maine has a substantial outbreak.”

“I am moving when my lease ends in July, which by itself very nature throws a wrench into my efforts to social distance responsibly. I currently live in North Carolina, and I’m moving back to the city, so I plan on renting a U-Haul, loading it myself, driving it directly to the West Village (where I’m moving), and unloading it myself. I’m planning on renting the U-Haul a few days early in order to have time to properly sanitize/disinfect the driving area and the interior of the storage area. Because the drive and the packing/unpacking is all too much to do in one day, I’ll probably sleep overnight in the cabin of the U-Haul itself, to avoid exposure to others. Once in my new apartment, I’m hoping to be able to quarantine for 14+ days before I need to re-emerge.”

“REALLY unsure about this — tentatively going with a friend to a place in Woodstock (I’d ask her to be extra vigilant about social distancing for two weeks beforehand) and potentially going to a place in the Poconos in August. For the August house, the friend is an essential worker. So this would really depend on how the news is looking. Just typing this out, it all seems like a bad idea. So I probably will stay home.”

Are you planning on visiting elderly family or friends this summer?

No: 80.4%
Yes: 19.6%

If so, what precautions will you take?

“I will be living for the summer with my parents, ages 64 and 72. I intend to take full precautions, only seeing others while maintaining social distance, and will be doing a two week quarantine in an apartment in my town after my flight before I move into the house with them.”

“Went to visit my 85-year-old grandmother on Long Island last weekend. She lives alone and has a big backyard. We sat outside more than 10 feet away, wore masks, and didn’t go inside. The loneliness and isolation she’s experienced has resulted in a notable decline in her overall health. It’s a really tough situation for her, but I felt like we visited her in the safest possible way.”

“My parents are in their mid-60s and I’ve visited them without taking any unusual precautions. They’re already socializing more than I am. When stuff reopens, I’ll probably try to wait a week if I’ve hung out anywhere indoors before spending time with them. I do not think I would see either of my grandmothers, who are in their 90s, and one of whom lives out of state.”

“My grandma lives on the UWS. I walk into Manhattan to shop and bring her groceries once a week. I have a whole system for getting clean before I enter her apartment building!”

“We will only go if we’ve only been tested for COVID/antibodies and if everyone is in good health.”

“I think my in-laws will need some sort of social contact or it will not be good for their mental health. Since we have been observing social distancing, we should be able to visit them outside in the open air for a little while.”

“I visit my grandmother in Brooklyn, we sit in her garden, I wear a mask and social distance.”

“We may camp with my dad, who is in his 70’s. If we do we will stay on a different campsite and do our best to keep six feet away from him/wear a mask. We have a 3-year-old who is the apple of her grandpa’s eye so this could be difficult.”

“We (my mom and I) will ensure we’re well, wear masks while we travel, and ensure my grandfather (who we’re visiting) has also been healthy — he is the wildcard in the situation, as he has been the worst at obeying stay-at-home orders (while we’ve done so since the beginning), but we still want to visit him.”

Note: Not every respondent answered every question.

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949 New York Readers on Summer Travel and Quarantine Pods