Love in the Time of COVID...
and monkeypox, and maybe polio??
Wow. What a time to be alive--living through the largest public health failure in modern history. "Personal responsibility" and "public health" are opposing approaches. Since the CDC has thrown you to the wolves in regards to your personal health and safety you might be saying to yourself, "Seeing a provider seems like a pretty high risk right now, why should I risk it." Well, yes and no. We are all having to make risk assessments to assure some semblance of quality of life right now. So both the level of your touch and connection needs (yes, they are needs), as well as the provider you choose matters. Your need for physical contact may outweigh your aversion to risk, and the following information is provided to help you make a more informed, safe-as-possible choice.
My Vaccination status
Vaccinated and boosted once for COVID. Currently waiting on more effective boosters
Vaccinated with one dose against monkeypox with the smallpox vaccine.
(One dose provides 80% protection after two weeks. The second dose gets you to 84%. Since there are currently not enough vaccines to go around, Multnomah county is currently only providing one dose.)
My personal approach
My current approach is basically viewing life as a zombie apocalypse video game. I have managed to evade COVID so far by a combination of caution, vigilance, and absolute luck.
I always, always wear an N95 mask in public spaces, even outdoors if it's crowded. I do not dine out inside, I don't go to parties, events, or shows , I don't fly on planes (I'm not self-righteous about this, I'm just mad, tired, and annoyed) When community transmission is high, I do not dine outside at restaurants either. I have transparent conversations with friends about recent activities and exposure, and if needed we wear masks or meet outdoors when hanging out (amazing how safe sex approaches translate to pandemic behavior).
I'm living a diminished life, because I want to protect myself, my clients, and my loved ones. I shouldn't have to live such a restricted life, but once again, I view this as a public health failure, and I'm in it for the long haul. This is not life as usual, therefore I do not expect to have a usual lifestyle right now, regardless of how exhausted I am by the never-ending pandemic.
I have raised my rates so that I can be more selective in choosing clients who prioritize safety and have a lower volume overall.
I stay informed and up-to-date by following epidemiologist, researchers, and public health professionals and adapt accordingly (may I recommend the truly excellent podcast Death Panel?).
I have two high quality air purifiers in my studio and I open the windows to air out the space after a guest leaves. Clean air is an enormous tool for reducing infection.
It is still unclear how Monkeypox is transmitted and which routes of infection are the most effective. It is probably airborne. It is definitely passed from person to person via skin to skin contact. It's probably possible to contract it through infected linens and clothing. The level of transmission via fomites on food and surfaces is unclear.
Therefore I am currently: carefully disinfecting all linens after use and disinfecting shared surfaces (especially the shower and toilet. I'm currently less concerned about things like door handles and light switches (but still give them a spray down with disinfected every few days).
Safety not Guaranteed
I'm doing my absolute best and taking as many precautions as I am sanely able to. But that does not mean seeing me is risk-free. While I take RAT tests fairly regularly and I'm vaccinated for MPX, I can't guarantee that the day you choose to see me isn't my first day of an asymptomatic infection. You are an adult and you're in charge of your own safety. Please do your own best risk assessment before you see me. If you live with someone who is immunocompromised, I would prefer you did not see me, because while you consented to spending time with me unmasked, the people you live with probably did not. And the reverse is also true: if you are taking precautions, but the people you spend time with unmasked are not; I did not consent to that risk.
My Expectations of you
I'm not here to scold or judge. I don't expect you to make the same life choices as me. I'm just doing my best to mitigate harm and risk to myself and my community. Therefore, regardless of your usual approach to the pandemic(s), I expect you to take precautions for seven to fourteen days before our session.
This means :
wearing a high quality mask in public spaces, workplaces, and larger gatherings
avoiding close or prolonged contact with people who are ill or have been exposed to either virus
avoiding crowded spaces where skin to skin contact with others or infected linens is likely (spas, dance clubs, sex clubs, festivals, etc)
I expect you to be transparent and honest. I expect that even if you have different beliefs or views about virus transmission and public health, you will respect my requirements or find someone else who can accommodate you.