Doctor shares family's plans for a 'summer of uncertainty' on Twitter. Here's what experts think about his advice.

·Writer
·8 min read
Dr. Gabriel Bosslet, assistant dean for faculty affairs and professional development at Indiana University, laid out how his family was spending their summer on Twitter, which raised questions for many (Photo by Alexi Rosenfeld/Getty Images)
Dr. Gabriel Bosslet, assistant dean for faculty affairs and professional development at Indiana University, laid out on Twitter how his family was spending their summer, which raised questions for many. (Photo by Alexi Rosenfeld/Getty Images)

Summer is coming up fast, but with COVID-19 still circulating, experts say this summer is going to look a little different than ones in the past. So one critical care doctor decided to publicly share his own family’s altered summer plans in hopes of helping others.

Dr. Gabriel Bosslet, assistant dean for faculty affairs and professional development at Indiana University, recently spelled it all in a lengthy Twitter thread that’s getting attention. “As a critical care doc with a pediatrician wife, 4 school aged kids, and a summer of uncertainty ahead, here is how our family is approaching the coming months,” he wrote. “I offer this as a point of reference for those struggling with how to handle the dog days, not as a recipe that others should follow. This is OUR way—I don’t pretend that it is THE way. Some will think we are overly cautious, and others will think we are being cavalier.”

Bosslet also pointed out that his family’s plans are a “starting point” and subject to change as circumstances with the pandemic change.

Then Bosslet broke down his family’s plans. “Our family will continue to hunker down as much as we are able. We will only venture out for necessary things, one of these being occasional human interaction,” he wrote on Friday. “We will try to spend as much time as we can outdoors. I consider outdoors to be safer than indoors. This is because a) the outdoors is better ventilated, and b) people tend to touch a lot of the same things indoors: doorknobs, faucet handles, etc.”

But, he added, his family will avoid touching commonly touched surfaces as much as possible. “We will limit our use of public restrooms (as possible). We will bring our own water bottles to avoid public fountains. We will pack a lot of picnics,” he wrote.

Also, Bosslet said, his kids will not be going to summer camps or visiting public pools. “We will avoid crowds. No Disney or State Fair or concerts for us. As someone who has seen this thing from the front line, it is just not worth it right now. But I look forward to the day when I don’t consider these places risky for all of us,” he wrote. Bosslet said his family will go to “occasional” outdoor social gatherings in small groups with people they “know and love and miss,” but they will make sure there are no buffet lines or shared utensils.

Bosslet said his crew will keep 6 feet away from high-risk family members and plan to wear masks inside public areas. They won’t wear gloves — “gloves aren’t helpful unless you replace them after each interaction/touch, and that is just not feasible,” he wrote — and they’ll use hand sanitizer “a lot.”

Bosslet said his family may take small road trips but will try to limit stops and emphasize hand hygiene. His children might also attend “local outdoor day camps” if “things remain calm.”

While Bosslet doesn’t have toddlers, he said it’s a good idea to keep them home. “They are super-spreaders of disease because they touch everything and everyone,” he said.

Bosslet ended his thread on this note: “This is the summer of uncertainty. Let’s proceed with humility, the willingness to check assumptions regarding how things will play out, and grace for those around us who disagree with our decisions (within reason).”

Bosslet tells Yahoo Life that he decided to write his Twitter thread “because people are constantly asking me about these things.” He writes updates about the coronavirus on the state of Indiana’s Facebook page, and after writing one about summer, he realized he and his wife should talk about their own plans. “I wanted to make sure we were on the same page,” he says.

Bosslet urges other couples and families to do the same. “The bottom line is that we don’t know what summer is going to be like,” he says. “But for our family, we needed to manage expectations this summer. We’re all going to have to make compromises with this thing.”

Other doctors have also changed their summer plans.

Dr. Iahn Gonsenhauser, chief quality and patient safety officer at the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, tells Yahoo Life that his family’s plans have been drastically altered. “We will be avoiding crowds and continuing our social distancing,” he says. “We always carry reusable water bottles and hand sanitizer, but this means no camp, no traveling, no pools, no playdates, no grilling out with groups and friends, and no big Memorial Day — my birthday — or Fourth of July or Labor Day. We will miss these things, but I’d rather miss a cookout this summer than miss a friend or parent for the rest of my life.”

Gonsenhauser and his family enjoy boating on the Great Lakes, though, and that’s an activity he says they plan to continue given that they can continue to practice social distancing while boating.

Dr. Andres Romero, an infectious disease specialist at Providence Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, Calif., lives in Los Angeles County, which has extended stay-at-home orders through July. “I have a 5-year-old, and this summer will not be like it has been before, where I would have 15 kids come over to play,” he says. While his apartment complex has a community pool, it’s closed due to the virus. So Romero and his family purchased an inflatable pool, water toys and buckets for his son to play with.

“I am approaching the summer very cautiously. It definitely won’t be as carefree as other summers,” women’s health expert Dr. Jennifer Wider tells Yahoo Life. “I’m hoping that the virus transmission slows down enough to allow my kids to possibly see small groups of friends or go to camp. But I would only send them to an outdoor space with small numbers.”

Dr. William Schaffner, an infectious disease specialist and professor at the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, tells Yahoo Life that his family plans to be “very restricted” with what they do this summer, even as his state and city open up. He and his wife typically go to Florida in the summer, but “that’s very clearly off,” he says.

“We’re planning on being as cautious as possible,” Dr. Lawrence Kleinman, vice chair of pediatrics Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, tells Yahoo Life. He and his family have plans to travel to Massachusetts in late summer, but “it’s very unlikely we’ll be able to do that,” he says. Kleinman has a 3-year-old daughter, and he says he’s worried about how all of this will impact her. “I’m worried about what, as a parent, I need to do to help my child stay resilient from any traumas from this. I have to help her learn that this is the exception — not the norm.”

Dr. Richard Watkins, an infectious disease physician and professor of internal medicine at the Northeast Ohio Medical University, tells Yahoo Life that he’s going to continue doing what he’s been doing since the pandemic started. “I plan to continue social distancing and all the other measures that I have been doing up to this point,” he says. “I don't want to get COVID-19, and I don’t want my family to get it either.”

While Kleinman calls the change in summer plans “disappointing,” he’s also keeping things in perspective. “Tens of thousands have lost their lives,” he says. “The inconvenience of the change of summer plans is an inconvenience; the loss of life and health is much more profound.”

While Bosslet says that every family needs to make decisions that feel right for themselves, he urges others to make a summer plan now, knowing that COVID-19 is unpredictable. “Be willing to change on the fly as things evolve,” he says.

For the latest coronavirus news and updates, follow along at https://news.yahoo.com/coronavirus. According to experts, people over 60 and those who are immunocompromised continue to be the most at risk. If you have questions, please reference the CDC’s and WHO’s resource guides.

Read more from Yahoo Life

Want daily lifestyle and wellness news delivered to your inbox? Sign up here for Yahoo Life’s newsletter.