As COVID-19 cases plateau, Georgians consider widening their coronavirus circles

Andrea Pearson has spent the two and a half months hunkered down at her Atlanta home with her 2-year-old Astrid.

"We used to go to the zoo several times a week, and to the Botanical Garden, and to the park," Pearson says. "She loved going to her daycare.”

They quit doing all of that when the pandemic hit in March.

Now, Pearson, who has taken paid time off from her job managing a university research lab to stay home with Astrid while her husband John works, has been taking her daughter on short outings, away from other people.

"We have not had any social interactions or playdates with our daughter," Pearson says.  "She's only two, and it's hard to social distance with a two-year-old because they just don't really understand."

As Georgia reopens, and residents adjust to a new normal, Emory infectious disease physicians Colleen Kraft and Carlos del Rio say people will have to choose how much contact they want to have with the world around them.

"If you have a lot of people out there with a lot of contact, you’re going to see more cases," Dr. del Rio says.  "If you have less people, and less number of contacts, you’re going to have less cases.  I really think it’s going to be a lot about individual behaviors and less about policies."

Dr. Kraft encourages people to think about whether they are comfortable expanding their coronavirus circle.

“I think the best thing to do, and Dr. del Rio alluded to this, is to just figure out what makes you comfortable and what your risk is," Kraft says.

If you or someone you live with is medically-fragile, she says, keep your coronavirus circle very small.

“I’ve had people ask me about whether they should send their child to camp," Dr. Kraft says. (I am) asking them back, 'Do you want to have the exposures of 20 to 40 children who are going to be there?  Do you want their circle to be your circle?'"

For now, Andrea Pearson says her daily "circle" will include Astrid and her.

“She has a book with mama animals and baby animals, and she'll start flipping through the book and saying, "Mama, baby, home," Pearson says.  "She'll flip the page and say, 'Mama, baby, home."   Yeah, mamas and babies stay home a lot right now.”

Pearson says she will not feel comfortable going back out into the world until there is a vaccine.