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How would you feel about flying in September?


Moonhawk
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My sister has requested my presence for her birthday. It's a milestone, and this is very, very important to her. I have turned down her last *5* requests to come out (3 of them pre-Covid) and don't think I can turn down this one. (eta: To make it clear that this isn't optional, I missed her wedding........)

But, for the first time, I have a job, and will need to request time off. Looking at the work calendar, I can only request 1 day. So, Friday, Saturday, Sunday. It would be a 14 hour drive, or a 2 hour flight. I would vastly prefer to not drive it, but I would vastly prefer to not take any more Covid risks right now, especially since I can't quarantine on either side of the trip.

So, the unfortunate answer is drive, right? Or, do you think with vaccination I might be ok to fly?

eta: just in case it's not clear, 14 hours / 2 hour one way.

Edited by Moonhawk
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We’ve been flying. All of us are fully vaccinated and we double mask on flights.  It’s riskier than staying home, of course, but it’s a risk we’ve decided is worth it to see our children.  I wouldn’t fly just for a vacation right now though.  

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Dh and I are doing an overnight train ride in September to visit his parents. I was able to get us an actual room with a bathroom but we’ll still be on the train for about 18 hours. I am unable to fly due to panic attacks so this is our best option right now. I don’t see us changing anything unless Amtrak shuts down. It’s worth it to us to be able to see them since it’s been over two years and they are in their 80s. So, I would go if vaccinated and felt it important to see those family members. 

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I haven’t seen my 75 yo dad in two years. We bought tickets four months ago for myself and our kids. We’re all vaxxed but my (also vaxxed) sister is bringing new niece too (9 mos old). We’re all going come hell or high water. My dad has significant health issues and we want/need to see him and have him meet his newest grandbaby. We’ll mask there and back with N95s but that’s it. My dad wants/needs this. If the last thing he does is visit with his daughters and grandkids, he's good with that. He's made that perfectly clear. We respect his choice.

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I would maybe fly depending on if I lived with or was visiting someone high risk, and where I was flying…..flying into Florida or Louisiana? No. Other places with lower cases, maybe. Since it’s only a two hour flight, are there multiple flights available each day? Could you fly at a less busy time of day? 

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@Spryte Yes, 3 kids under vaccination age :\\\\ Before my job started 2 weeks ago I was still doing basically full Covid protocol because of this. Going out of the house everyday still feels extremely weird.

@HSmomof2 Arizona to San Francisco. Since SFO is a large airport (PHX is kinda too, but if I fly out of TUS that isn't a factor) I'm considering that the traffic from so many areas negates any "safer place" vibes they may have when compared to FL, but maybe this is flawed thinking.

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Is your job indoors with other people? If it is, then it may be that flying is no more risk than what you are doing for work. N95s are available again now. I would get some of those and keep it on the entire flight without removing to eat or anything. Two hours should be doable for that. Supposedly the air filtration on planes is pretty efficient. Doesn't mean it has prevented all outbreaks from flights, but I haven't seen that be one of the major sources. (But in full disclosure, I declined a plane trip for September.)

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Between all of us in our family, we have each had to fly multiple times over the past year. I would go with zero hesitation. Bring an n-95 mask, keep it on. Aim the air thingy up above your head right on your head (they are filtering the air in that plane super fast, so the air thing is pushing freshly cleaned air right onto your head).

Like I said, we've flown multiple times through pretty much ALL the stages of Covid. Never once had even a Covid scare after a flight.

(Depending on our travel reasons, I've sometimes viewed the people we were going to see on the other side of the trip as more of a Covid risk than the flight itself!)

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1 hour ago, Moonhawk said:

@Spryte Yes, 3 kids under vaccination age :\\\\ Before my job started 2 weeks ago I was still doing basically full Covid protocol because of this. Going out of the house everyday still feels extremely weird.

@HSmomof2 Arizona to San Francisco. Since SFO is a large airport (PHX is kinda too, but if I fly out of TUS that isn't a factor) I'm considering that the traffic from so many areas negates any "safer place" vibes they may have when compared to FL, but maybe this is flawed thinking.

I'd suggest flying into SJC (San Jose) instead.  It's reasonably close by, much smaller, and with a LOT fewer people.  It's also newer so I tend to trust the air handling a bit more.  

I went to a family wedding in April that I *had to* go to.  I was barely vaccinated at that point, and clearly not immune yet.  I made a conscious decision that it was worth risking my life for.  Then in June there was a board meeting in St. Louis that suddenly morphed to 'in person' and I flew to that without much concern at all.  But things have gotten worse again, and I'm skipping the board meeting in September that was supposed to be in person, and hoping that a Zoom option will be made available.  I'm probably skipping another family wedding in October that is in Massachusetts.  It really bites but things have changed again.  

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On the one hand, it’s a short flight you can easily mask for. OTOH you have unvaxxed kids and can’t quarantine after you get home, potentially exposing coworkers. Ugh. I know you say you can’t miss the event, but what if you do?

We still have tickets to fly overseas in September to move DS into his university apartment. We haven’t fully committed; it feels terribly risky but I can’t imagine not being there for him. Our time there will be spent almost entirely outdoors, away from people as much as possible. When we return we will self quarantine for a week-10 days just in case.

Idk. I’d be inclined to advise you to not go, but clearly I’m making the opposite decision (probably). There is no possible way for you to work from home the week after you get back? That would at least greatly reduce any possibility of spreading it out into your community.

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Forget covid. If there’s weather or an unruly passenger or the airlines are still canceling 80% of flights due to staffing issues you might get stranded there.  Or worse, stranded in a germy airport. 

I’d drive. 

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I would not.  I'd send a lovely gift, facetime, and plan a visit at a more feasible time when you could take the time to drive there and back.  Regardless of when you last got together, it is not right to ask/demand at this time.  I am struck more and more often by the social guilt Mary's mom espoused in the Secret Garden: "I only stayed to go to a silly dinner party!" as cholera runs rampant and affects everyone except the forgotten child, who is essentially quarantined.  Don't let social guilt define your health decisions.

 

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If you are already in person daily, I'm not sure the plane is higher risk. A good mask would be essential, and less crowded airports another way to limit your exposure. But I'm not sure driving 14 hours straight twice in 3 days after a full day of birthday excitement is very safe. 

If it helps, I know my son got Covid from a trip, but he was with 8 people, 1 of whom shared flights with him, and no one else got it. 

Quote

 

 

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I’m flying the end of October and taking my 11 year old, who will probably not be vaccinated by then.   I wouldn’t miss my sister’s birthday and wouldn’t drive that far in such a short amount of time. I actually think driving would be riskier because you’re more likely to have to stop places where people aren’t masked, whereas they’re required to be masked in airplanes and airports.

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If crowded planes and airports terrify you, this is not the time to fly. I have flown multiple times since December, including yesterday, and every plane and every airport were the busiest I have ever seen them. I am 0% afraid of covid (I had it; NBD, which I knew it would not be for me; I caught it in an ER), obviously, and cannot imagine not flying to such an important event. But if airport crowds are a concern for you, just know that they're packed right now.

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I would plan to fly next month rather than make two 13 hour drives in 3 days.  (In fact, I have a flight scheduled for next week.)  I would not feel it necessary to do so to attend my sister's birthday celebration if I were uncomfortable with flying under current conditions.  

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I haven't yet flown, though we've done a good bit of roadtripping since we all got vaccinated. 

Back in June, during what has turned out to be our lowest case count, I reluctantly acceded to flight-dependent plans for a trip my husband really really really wanted to do in end September.  I was right on the edge then, but agreed because it looked, then, like everything was moving in the right direction.

Then Delta.  Which has not yet set me back into home isolation, but definitely HAS made me super-conscious of ventilation.  I've gone back to outdoor dining only, back to socializing on the terrace instead of inside, back to walking with friends rather than meeting for coffee, etc.  I am increasingly queasy about the prospect of 4+ hours in windowless airports and 5+ hours in recirculated air.

I haven't yet pulled the plug, in part because I think there's a decent chance that by end-September the airlines will be requiring 12+ passengers to be vaccinated as a condition of boarding. If that were in place I'd be a whole lot more likely to fly.

 

 

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I'd fly. 14 hours isn't a safe drive to do all in one stretch by yourself, and it sounds like that's how you'd have to do it. Realistically, I bet the risk of an accident making that drive would be bigger than the risk of covid. Wear a good mask, don't get to the airport earlier than you have to, don't eat on the plane, etc. But if I could, I'd wait until the current surge is over and you can get more time off and make the visit then. For context, my oldest goes to college a 20 hour drive away and has flown back and forth several times during covid. I'm not thrilled about it, but driving him isn't a realistic option, and I'm not confident that it's safer anyway given that we'd need to do hotels, lots of gas and bathroom stops, etc. etc. if we drove. He'll be flying back at the end of the month, double masked and all that. 

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@plansrme Thanks for the update on what you've seen recently. I wouldn't say I was terrified of planes and airports, otherwise I wouldn't be asking this. I just haven't been in this position before with a job and schedule, and the Delta variant is changing my assessment on a daily basis, so that's why I'm asking for others' risk assessments. In my previous life I'd either take a few extra days to do the drive, or fly and take a few days on the back end to quarantine myself. Neither of these are options anymore. And, my kids are my main concern. 

@Farrar when you say "N95 and some face protection" what do you mean by face protection? Shields or glasses? I wear prescription already, I just don't know if I'm not up on the options these days.

And, there's some other extenuating circumstances I can't talk about on the Board that are making this more a required visit; I mentioned the birthday just because that's the understandable "these dates" reason and why I can't move it forward to this weekend or something where there's more time/less risk. 

Thanks for the advice everyone. Tonight I'm leaning towards fly because it was a long day at work and imagining hopping in a car tomorrow to do the drive sounds unwise. Plus, I'm rusty on my California driving skills and that isn't something I should be doing while tired, especially San Francisco, ack. I'll see if there's any way to get more time off so I could at least split up the drive there, but I really doubt it will be possible.

If I get really concerned about the kids on the way back, I can maybe get a hotel in my town for a few days just to see if any symptoms show up, but still go to work (where everyone is vaccinated, distanced, and as of yesterday, masked again). Or send the kids to my parents for a few days. 

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I'd fly from a small airport, preferably off-peak (if there's a choice of flight timings) and with a plane that appears to not be full when booking it (bonus: these are often the cheaper flights from a given provider on a given route). 28 hours of driving in 3 days is fundamentally unsafe, and flying is much like being in an office for a few hours with strangers.

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re separating from kids upon return

11 hours ago, Moonhawk said:

.....And, my kids are my main concern. ..

...I'll see if there's any way to get more time off so I could at least split up the drive there, but I really doubt it will be possible.

If I get really concerned about the kids on the way back, I can maybe get a hotel in my town for a few days just to see if any symptoms show up, but still go to work (where everyone is vaccinated, distanced, and as of yesterday, masked again). Or send the kids to my parents for a few days. 

Either of these options would help me a great deal in getting over what you're stating as the main concern (transmitting asymptomatically or pre-symptomatically to the kids).  I'd pick one now as the plan (which you can always revise if by September cases have plummeted), combined if possible with PCR testing before you rejoin them.

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I flew a couple weeks ago. The airports were packed, lines long. I wore my happy mask and regular glasses. I didn’t eat in the airport or on the plane. I had a long delay so I tried to find a less busy part of the airport for the wait. 
I have one unvaccinated person in my house so I separated from them on return. In our house that was easier, separate basement bedroom. Visited them outside on porches from a distance. Got a PCR test. It was negative. 
Just sharing my experience. 
I flew through the south, people were kind of masked- On chins, below nose etc., no one said anything to them. you might have better masking in California. 

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On 8/9/2021 at 10:51 PM, Moonhawk said:

It's a milestone, and this is very, very important to her. I have turned down her last *5* requests to come out (3 of them pre-Covid) and don't think I can turn down this one. (eta: To make it clear that this isn't optional, I missed her wedding........)
Missing her wedding doesn't obligate you to go to her birthday party now.  Each event and your circumstances at the time are unique and have be weighed separately from previous situations. 

Also, mature adults don't make events, including milestone birthday parties the most important thing in their lives.  (Whatever those are, seriously we're not making a big deal about a birthday that ends in a 0 or 5 are we? ) Mature adults understand that invitees have all sorts of factors to consider when decided to accept or decline an invitation, and don't take it personally if someone, even someone extremely close to them declines.  No one is ever obligated to sustain and support someone else's immaturity if it's a factor.

But, for the first time, I have a job, and will need to request time off. Looking at the work calendar, I can only request 1 day. So, Friday, Saturday, Sunday. It would be a 14 hour drive, or a 2 hour flight. I would vastly prefer to not drive it, but I would vastly prefer to not take any more Covid risks right now, especially since I can't quarantine on either side of the trip.
Those are perfectly valid reasons to decline.  If sis throws a temper tantrum and/or damages the relationship because of it, it's on her, not you.

So, the unfortunate answer is drive, right? Or, do you think with vaccination I might be ok to fly?
I flew across the country in July because we were all vaccinated and the people we visited had ample time to vaccinate if they wanted to
But driving so long when you really don't want to for something as insignificant in the scheme of things as a birthday and you obviously have a busy life with limited time off and there's a sharp increase in a recurring pandemic, declining seems like the thing to do.
eta: just in case it's not clear, 14 hours / 2 hour one way.

 

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I'd fly, good mask, stock up on some tests now as they seem to be in and out of stock, send kids to your mom's house for a few days when you get back. Ideally 5 days, but with Delta usually 4 days you can get a positive test from what I read. (assuming you caught it on plane on the way home, if you caught is sooner, you'd show positive sooner, obviously)

DH has to fly for work in October and I'm dreading it. I'd really hoped the younger ones would be vaccinated by then, but now that looks unlikely. But he's leading a workshop AND giving a talk for the first time at this conference - and it is his big event that recharges his batteries and helps his mental health. he's being paid, it's important, and it is a small conference (a few hundred) not a giant one. Still don't like it. 

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Although, I flew out of Tucson in July and there was literally zero line, so TSA Precheck is probably not worth the cost and hassle for that airport. We kept masks on in all the airports and on all the flights, ate in a quieter part of the connecting airport.

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Happy birthday to your sister!  I see your situation this way -

1.  14 hours is a looooong drive.  How do I know?  I drove solo from Charlotte, NC to suburb of Detroit, MI last Sept!  It was, after stopping a gasoline a couple of times, a 12 1/2 hour - 13 hour day!  I was soooo excited to be going back home to Michigan (not birth state, but dh and I lived there for 5 years, years ago) in the fall to visit family that I was pumped and that kept me going.  I told people they had to call to help keep me awake.  I left at 8:10 in morning to arrive before dark but as you would know it I hit DT Detroit at dark which is no big deal but I haven't driven in DT Detroit let alone by myself in decades (by myself).  

Take away:  need to be prepared in every sense to do this.  Expect delays with accidents, construction (if you're an AAA or CAA member go to their local affiliate and ask what road conditions are like a few days before you leave.  If you go to AAA in August and you'll be driving in Oct. construction could "start" after AAA and before you leave), road closures/rerouting, stopping a couple times or so for gasoline.

2.  I know people are afraid to fly.  DH and I have not in the pandemic.  However, I know a few people who have - boardies, people locally.  A two hour flight is manageable.  People wear masks on the plane.   About half the people I see in public locally are masking.   Co19 will invade anywhere, anytime whether it's on a plane or standing next to someone in the grocery line.

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If you are vaccinated and not immune compromised, you don’t have immune compromised household members, and your unvaccinated children are not high risk, I don’t see the problem.  The statistical chance of you bringing home delta and someone in your family being severely affected by it is very low.  

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1 hour ago, Condessa said:

If you are vaccinated and not immune compromised, you don’t have immune compromised household members, and your unvaccinated children are not high risk, I don’t see the problem.  The statistical chance of you bringing home delta and someone in your family being severely affected by it is very low.  

There are kids who were not high risk in the hospitals. It isn't a high risk, and i think the risk of driving is higher, but i understand being concerned. 

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I would go, but I'm probably also biased so take that answer how you wish. DH is a pilot and has been flying through the pandemic. He didn't get Covid and we haven't seen a huge amount of fellow pilots/FA's down with Covid in relation to how much they fly (which can be to may different airports/flights a day). Totally unscientific and anecdotal example though, so like I said take it for what it is. DH is now fully vaccinated (but wasn't for a long time due to availability in our area for his age) and I have no issue with him flying. He flies on average 60 flights a month.

I would go because of the milestone and the alternative of driving 14 hours (UGH! LOL!). You have to do what you feel comfortable with, though!

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2 hours ago, Condessa said:

If you are vaccinated and not immune compromised, you don’t have immune compromised household members, and your unvaccinated children are not high risk, I don’t see the problem.  The statistical chance of you bringing home delta and someone in your family being severely affected by it is very low.  

This is a difficult prediction to make even for epidemiologists at this point because a lot of these statistics were collected before Delta became the predominant strain. At best, we have Israeli and European studies, not local studies on how Delta is spreading in the local population. Last I checked, there are 120K+ cases reported every day (with thousands unreported).

September is still few weeks away. By that time, my prediction is that Arizona would have an uptick in infections, so airports might be risky spaces.

@MoonhawkI would not risk flying.

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1 hour ago, ktgrok said:

There are kids who were not high risk in the hospitals. It isn't a high risk, and i think the risk of driving is higher, but i understand being concerned. 

There are indeed, but extremely few compared to the number of non high-risk kids who have had covid.  I think that, despite our natural tendency to make decisions about what risks to take based on our fears, it makes more sense to try to base those decisions on actual mathematical probabilities.  

1 hour ago, mathnerd said:

This is a difficult prediction to make even for epidemiologists at this point because a lot of these statistics were collected before Delta became the predominant strain. At best, we have Israeli and European studies, not local studies on how Delta is spreading in the local population. Last I checked, there are 120K+ cases reported every day (with thousands unreported).

September is still few weeks away. By that time, my prediction is that Arizona would have an uptick in infections, so airports might be risky spaces.

@MoonhawkI would not risk flying.

We don't have enough info to be exact, but we do have enough for rough estimates.  If actual risk to my kids is less than that for other activities that I would find acceptable, does it make sense for me to rule it out based on a higher perception of risk?  This is my logic process.  I've got no issue with others using different criteria in their own decisions, but she asked for our opinions.  My general rule of thumb for myself is that if riding in a car is significantly more likely to result in my child's death or injury than another potential risk, it is probably silly of me to greatly fear that risk while driving around with my kids in the back seat.

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5 minutes ago, Condessa said:

There are indeed, but extremely few compared to the number of non high-risk kids who have had covid.  I think that, despite our natural tendency to make decisions about what risks to take based on our fears, it makes more sense to try to base those decisions on actual mathematical probabilities.  

Yes, I'd love to do that, but I can't get any kind of sense of the probabilities. The probability of death is obviously teeny. I have no idea what the probability of long COVID or MIS-C is and I don't think anyone else does, either. The data sucks. 

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5 minutes ago, Condessa said:

If actual risk to my kids is less than that for other activities that I would find acceptable, does it make sense for me to rule it out based on a higher perception of risk? 

What other activities are you comparing to? 

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1 minute ago, Not_a_Number said:

What other activities are you comparing to? 

I had cars in mind in this case, but at times when using this process and deciding whether to let my kids participate in something, I have chosen various activities to compare to.  When my husband expressed concerns about the safety of letting the kids participate in certain sports, I looked up actual numbers and types of injuries within various sports, and we found that sports we perceived to be more dangerous weren't necessarily the ones that were more likely to result in injury.  My dh's family is very risk averse, and when the olders were little, I used this process to help dh lighten up on them doing basic kid things that his family never allowed, like climbing a tree.  Stats on child deaths and injuries from car accidents are good for comparing to many things like this.

I really wish we had better information on a lot of things around covid, though.  Long-haul cases, not just hospitalizations, and especially for my own decision-making process, I wish my area had been tracking what percentage of the population has had confirmed COVID and been vaccinated.  We know what portion of the population has had it, and what portion has been vaccinated, but not how much overlap there is.  Because there is such a high rate of vaccine refusal in my area, I don't know if we will ever get the vaccination rates that we should like.  I would like to know what portion of our population likely has some form of immunity, either natural or from vaccination, to help base our decisions of if/when our family needs to lock down again to isolate my ds7.

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1 minute ago, Condessa said:

I had cars in mind in this case, but at times when using this process and deciding whether to let my kids participate in something, I have chosen various activities to compare to.  When my husband expressed concerns about the safety of letting the kids participate in certain sports, I looked up actual numbers and types of injuries within various sports, and we found that sports we perceived to be more dangerous weren't necessarily the ones that were more likely to result in injury.  My dh's family is very risk averse, and when the olders were little, I used this process to help dh lighten up on them doing basic kid things that his family never allowed, like climbing a tree.  Stats on child deaths and injuries from car accidents are good for comparing to many things like this.

I really wish we had better information on a lot of things around covid, though.  Long-haul cases, not just hospitalizations, and especially for my own decision-making process, I wish my area had been tracking what percentage of the population has had confirmed COVID and been vaccinated.  We know what portion of the population has had it, and what portion has been vaccinated, but not how much overlap there is.  Because there is such a high rate of vaccine refusal in my area, I don't know if we will ever get the vaccination rates that we should like.  I would like to know what portion of our population likely has some form of immunity, either natural or from vaccination, to help base our decisions of if/when our family needs to lock down again to isolate my ds7.

Yes, cars are a reasonable comparison. I think that cars and COVID have a different denominator, though: most kids have been driven in cars this year, but most kids haven't had COVID. So I don't know how to compare those well. Delta might give us a better chance to compare, sadly: I think most kids going to school are going to get COVID 😕 . 

I would also feel a lot better if I understood the long-haul cases. I don't think I'd be hunkering down if the only possible issues were hospitalization and death. Those are not THAT common, and I do try to be guided by probability. 

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1 hour ago, Condessa said:

There are indeed, but extremely few compared to the number of non high-risk kids who have had covid.  I think that, despite our natural tendency to make decisions about what risks to take based on our fears, it makes more sense to try to base those decisions on actual mathematical probabilities.  

We don't have enough info to be exact, but we do have enough for rough estimates.  If actual risk to my kids is less than that for other activities that I would find acceptable, does it make sense for me to rule it out based on a higher perception of risk?  This is my logic process.  I've got no issue with others using different criteria in their own decisions, but she asked for our opinions.  My general rule of thumb for myself is that if riding in a car is significantly more likely to result in my child's death or injury than another potential risk, it is probably silly of me to greatly fear that risk while driving around with my kids in the back seat.

Car accidents are not the right comparison. I disagree with everyone who compares Covid risk to car accidents. In normal times, if there were to be a car accident involving kids, the expectation would be that they would be taken to an ER where people will competently handle whatever needs to be done. There are no shortage of resources to handle kids who have been in car accidents in an ER or urgent care during normal times. But, your kids have not had Covid, CDC data of kids not getting easily infected by Covid is based off of kids being kept home for more than a year. Right now, there are no vaccines for young kids, there is a raging pandemic with a very infectious virus, people are lying on ER room floors for hours waiting for attention because of too many Covid cases in some states, ventilator shortages, increasing number of kids in icu’s, airlifting patients to neighboring counties and parents not allowed to be inside Covid wards. No comparison to the outcome of a car accidents of normal times.

Arizona has low vaccination rates. Going to a crowded airport there, passing through security checks there are high risk activities for Delta infection. SFO is an international airport, same risk. 

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1 hour ago, Condessa said:

 If actual risk to my kids is less than that for other activities that I would find acceptable, does it make sense for me to rule it out based on a higher perception of risk? 

Yes, it does make sense, if the higher risk perception causes you great anxiety.

An activity may be objectively less risky, but if taking that small risk which is perceived as large gives a parent high anxiety, then it isn't worth it. 

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