Coronavirus: Are quarantine 'support bubbles' safe?

Would you double your social “bubble” as the pandemic continues?

Support bubbles, or quarantine pods, might be just the cure for loneliness, depression and anxiety after months of social distancing and isolation amid the coronavirus health crisis, some experts say.

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An idea originated in New Zealand, the “social bubble” concept calls for two people or households to commit to exclusive in-person socializing with one another, the Associated Press reports, to limit the risk of potential infection.

Support bubbles, or quarantine pods, might be just the cure for loneliness, depression and anxiety after months of social distancing and isolation amid the coronavirus health crisis, some experts say.

Support bubbles, or quarantine pods, might be just the cure for loneliness, depression and anxiety after months of social distancing and isolation amid the coronavirus health crisis, some experts say. (Illustration by Peter Hamlin via the Associated Press)

Support bubbles are only recommended, however, if all participants agree to truly heed safe social distancing guidelines beyond it.

"You are now swimming in the same pool with not just that person, but all the people those people are interacting with," Dr. Aaron Milstone of the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine said of the idea.

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Across the pond, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced earlier this month that single parents or adults living alone can create support bubbles with another household. Participants are advised to keep a physical distance of at least six-and-a-half-feet apart when meeting with others, either outside or indoors.

Social bubble participants are advised to keep a physical distance of at least 6 and a half feet apart when meeting with others, outside or indoors.

Social bubble participants are advised to keep a physical distance of at least 6 and a half feet apart when meeting with others, outside or indoors. (iStock)

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In addition, a recent study from the peer-reviewed scientific journal Nature Human Behavior suggested that such bubbles might work better to flatten the COVID-19 infection curve in comparison with other socialization strategies, such as meeting with other members of one’s neighborhood.

However, it is still too soon to determine whether or not these social bubbles “will work” on a larger scale, per the Associated Press.

“I don’t think we can promise people complete safety when they have face-to-face contact with others outside their household," study co-author Per Block of Oxford University commented of the findings.

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According to an April study conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau and five federal agencies, one-third of Americans have struggled with anxiety or depression during the COVID-19 crisis.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.