"Quarantine Bubbles" and "Quaranteams": how some people are choosing to limit coronavirus risks while maintaining close social connections. 

The term "quaranteam" is a new one for 2020, along with the concept of so-called "quarantine bubbles". It might conjure up pictures of giant bubbles filled with people, however, as fun as running around in a giant bubble sounds, that is not what the term means. Quaranteam refers to the idea and practice of picking a specific and closed group of people to spend the coronavirus pandemic with.

A quaranteam can be made of the people one physically lives with, or that group can expand to include a few trusted friends and family members. Picking this team of trusted companions is one way people around the world have been beating isolation while taking precautions to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

In some situations, forming a quaranteam means a group of folks moving in together and partnering up for the duration of the pandemic. For others, it means creating a small select group of people one feels comfortable interacting with in multiple settings, under the agreement that no one breaks the bubble. Both are a type of closed socialization system where exposure is limited only to those in the group.

There is research that backs up the idea that quaranteaming works in limiting the risk of transmitting COVID-19 while allowing people to maintain social connections. A recent study published in Nature used social network theory (the study of how people, groups, and organizations interact with each other inside a network) and analyzed infectious disease models to determine if quaranteaming is an effective pracrice.

Researchers compared several different social distancing models, along with the scenario of using no social distancing methods at all. They found that the concept of creating a closed group, such as a "quarantine bubble," was the most effective social distancing approach when reducing the spread of the virus. When used directly in comparison with no social distancing, quarantine bubbles would reduce infections by 30 percent overall, says the study.

This video from MIT explains how to create a good quaranteam:

Some things to remember before joining a quaranteam:

  • Trust is a big deal in a closed social group. The idea of a closed network only works if everyone agrees to follow the same rules, and no one breaks the sanctity of the group.
  • There needs to be an agreement in place about what is acceptable, what is not, and everyone needs to practice the same level of commitment.
  • Taking the same safety precautions all the time is important. Adhering to safety guidelines, making sure everyone is handwashing, wearing a mask, etc. is especially important to keep the group as safe as possible.
  • Everyone needs to agree ahead of time to follow the same rules and share tasks to avoid internal conflict later.
  • A contingency plan for what to do if someone gets infected, and a clear definition of what risks are acceptable to the group and what are not.

It is also pertinent to remember that this is an incredibly unique situation, and that people may get emotional, disagree, or have a bad day. There will be moments of candor that can test relationships, and agreeing to be understanding of one another is going to be a must.

How do you feel about this idea of a quaranteam? Have you been part of one? What lessons have you learned from it? Share your insights with us in the comments.