The COVID quarantine has been hard on everyone. Even introverts and those who worked from home before the pandemic have found the social and physical isolation of the past year emotionally trying. Yet, it cannot be understated how utterly terrifying the global health crisis has been for those whose immune systems are not sufficiently strong enough to resist SARS-CoV-2.
Many people suffering from chronic diseases like rheumatoid arthritis or severe illness like cancer must take much more serious precautions to protect themselves, even after the release of the various vaccine. If you know someone suffering from immune suppression — for whatever reason — here are a few things you can do to make their existence more enjoyable over the next few months.
This should be the number-one, ironclad rule of any friendship, but it is especially important to remember during pandemic times: Peer pressure isn’t cool. You should never try to coerce your friends into doing something they clearly don’t want to do, even if you believe it could help them in some obscure way. Though you probably have not seen your immunocompromised friend in months — maybe more than a full year — you should not ever feel compelled to pressure them into visiting you in person, let alone venturing out into more dangerous social gatherings like restaurants or bars. If they succumb to your bullying, they might be exposed to COVID-19, which puts their life at risk. To prevent any awkward conversations or dangerous situations, you should skip the suggestion of in-person socializing altogether.
Meeting in person isn’t the only way to stay in contact. If there is one silver lining to the COVID crisis, it is that this global pandemic struck in 2020, long after the development and spread of mobile technologies that allow friends and family to stay in contact over long distances. Not only can you call your loved ones to chat, but you can text them, visit their social media pages and even speak to them face-to-face on video conference services. None of these modes of contact spread the COVID virus, so all will help you connect with your immunocompromised friend without putting them in harm’s way.
Every interaction between your immunocompromised friend and another person could result in the spread of COVID, so the fewer people they see, the safer they will be. Especially if you are already in your friend’s bubble, you might consider offering to run their errands to help them remain quarantined but gain access to the essentials they need to survive.
One of the more important errands they might need help with is picking up their prescriptions. Though more areas have opened up regulations to allow curbside pickup and at-home delivery of prescription medications and medical cannabis, many other areas have not. If you live in a state like Arkansas, your friend might need to venture into public whenever they need to get cannabis products from a dispensary in Conway. If there is no one else for your friend to depend on, you might consider applying to be your friend’s “caregiver,” who is authorized to pick up prescriptions and visit cannabis dispensaries in their name.
Groceries tend to be a bit easier to get delivered straight to one’s door, but home delivery can be expensive and take some time. If your friend does need extra help, you might offer to make grocery runs for your friend or pick up any other products they might be needing. As long as you don’t start to develop feelings of resentment about these types of chores, you should be able to show your friend how much you appreciate them and your friend should reciprocate however they can.
Young and healthy people have plenty to fear from catching COVID-19, but because the risk of serious illness is so low, most young, healthy people feel a bit more freedom to go out and experience the world as usual. Yet, as comfortable as you might feel with your choices during the pandemic, you don’t get to dictate how other people feel or behave — especially if that means telling someone to lighten up on precautions keeping them safe and healthy. COVID-19 might not be as virulent or deadly as other diseases in humanity’s past, but it has killed more than two million people worldwide, and those who are immunocompromised are at particular risk of serious disease that could cause long-term injury or death. You should be respectful of your friend’s desire to stay home, quarantine, wear masks and gloves and take any other measures that keep them safe and healthy.
Immunocompromising conditions don’t all look the same. If your friend is suffering from a condition that could make a positive COVID case much worse, you should be a good friend and support them with the above behaviors.
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