Since 40 percent of you out there have roommates, with others in family households, we’ve got some house rules to keep your domicile from becoming a germ pile.
Even if you are shacked up with housemates during our long and surreal shelter-in-place, you should still not get within six feet of each other as Felix and Oscar are above, and you certainly ought not waste disinfectant sprays just to make an argumentative point. But with 38.5 percent of San Franciscans living in roommate or housemate situations according to recent Zillow data, your household should develop some germ-prevention protocol to avoid innocent mistakes that could put your and your homies at a higher COVID-19 risk.
We can’t tell you how to get along with these people with whom you are experiencing a special new form of cabin fever. Maybe find a mindfulness app or read some Deepak Chopra blog posts. But there’s a hard and fast set of guidelines for keeping your house or apartment a coronavirus-free zone, and you better believe it begins with the bathroom.
You have been well-lectured about hand cleanliness, and even the New York Times ran the recent headline How to Wash Your Hands. But that’s only half of your bathroom battle, as separate advisory from Times health writer Tara Parker-Pope says you should be scrubbing your toilet and bathroom “every day,” preferably with products whose labels say things like they will “kill 99.9 percent of germs.”
And the hand-washing thing is not just for after you use the commode. Parker-Pope also advises washing your hands immediately once returning home from an essential trip, and also right before eating a meal.
Kitchen and House Etiquette
Since they are touched by you and your roommates’ grubby hands so much, it’s recommended to give all of your doorknobs a good spray at least once daily. Parker-Pope also recommends a daily scrub of the following surfaces:
• Light switches
• Refrigerator and microwave doors
• Drawer pulls
• TV remote
• Counters and table tops where you cook and eat
• Toilet handles
• Faucet handles
House Guests and Essential Trips
A Citylab piece on roommates under coronavirus lockdown visits several co-living situations around the country, including an SF apartment “pod” and an Oakland co-op. With regards to letting outside people in the house, some have instituted rules like “no guests except this one partner we all like,” or “one guest per person.” (One guest per person seems insanely permissive!) Other ground rules that seem a little more sensible and enforceable include showering immediately after returning home from an essential trip, or having separate set of clothes for wearing daily indoors and for what you’d wear out for your essential trips.
What if a Roommate Contracts Coronavirus
Yet another NYT trend piece on roommates in the coronavirus era has the heartbreaking story of a household full of twentysomethings where not one but two roommates fell ill with COVID-19. (Both moved separately to an upper floor.) In terms of practical advice in that nightmare scenario, the University of Michigan has a very medically sound 14 things to do if someone you live with has COVID-19 writeup. The biggies include quarantining them in a “sick room,” establishing them a separate “sick bathroom,” and reminding them to drink plenty of water while discouraging them from drinking alcohol like the rest of us shelter-in-place boozebags are.
It’s getting nauseatingly cliche to say “We’re all in this together,” but to those living in a shared house, that phrase is more urgent and scary than it is uplifting. But daily housecleaning and neurotic levels of handwashing are now pretty much required to keep co-living cool.
Image: Paramount Pictures