How to expand your bubble safely

“Double bubbling” is not a new dance that is sweeping the nation. Nor is it an online dating service. It is the new terminology for easing up on the restrictions of isolating within your designated family circle or “bubble.”

It is also referred to as “quaran-teaming.” Up until this point, Alaska has been in Phase 1 of battling COVID-19, where family units (or roommates) were encouraged to stay within their immediate unit and stay in social isolation from other families. The state is now moving into Phase 2 of reopening and the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services, as of May 15, has deemed it safe to cautiously expand your bubble to a single other family. This means your child can officially have play dates again without looking over your shoulder for the quarantine police.

It means that the two families in the quaran-team do not have to wear face masks or social distance. But, (there is always a “but” these days) it does not mean that you can start having play dates or women’s night out with multiple kids or BFFs.

To be clear, double bubbling means just that: you pick one family that you can socialize with in any setting: in your house, in their car, on your boat or in the bar. It does not mean you can pick another bubble every week and make it your new bubble. It does not mean that each of your five children can have a different bubble family to join. And it certainly doesn’t mean you can jump in with three or four different bubbles at the same time. Bubble baths are strictly prohibited at this time. This is not like dating when you are 18: this is marriage-level commitment to your quaran-team.

Although I am writing the above in a lighthearted manner, I want to be very clear that the stakes of expanding our social contacts are deadly serious. It is possible that if we do not continue to follow the recommendations of Dr. Anne Zink and the Department of Health, we could see a resurgence of the virus with very dire consequences. Expanding your bubble means that you don’t have to wear masks within the two family/friend units — but if you are gathering with multiple families, or in restaurants or bars with your bubble double, you should still wear a mask and follow social distancing, practice frequent hand washing, and avoid touching surfaces and your face and eyes.

This is a crucial time for Alaska and Cordova. If we see a major jump in the cases, we will likely need to go back to stricter social isolation again. It is also advised that the vulnerable elderly, those in high risk professions, or those who have high risk conditions carefully consider the risks before expanding their bubble for obvious reasons.

So, let’s do this right so we can continue to move forward safely. But in the meantime, pick your bubble wisely, my friends. You could be together for a while.

For a visual of how to expand your bubble and a personal “tracker” for social contacts please use the link, bit.ly/3e6TRwe.

If we do see a resurgence of the virus, that can be vital to shutting down the transmission quickly. Cordova has done an amazing job at hunkering down and preventing the emergence of community spread disease. As we move into Phase 2 it is more important than ever to continue to follow the recommendations to keep our community healthy and disease free.


Dr. Kristel Rush is medical director for Ilanka Community Health Center.