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What To Consider Before You Start "Quaranteaming" With Friends 

April 25, 2020

There's no question that many people miss spending time with friends and family. And let's face it, many people are probably sick of seeing their roommates or family members who live with them. As a solution to both cases, some people are choosing to move in with people outside of their normal household. The term has been dubbed "quaranteaming," and though it may be fun, is it safe?

Well, that depends on a lot of factors. Similar to traveling between different houses during the pandemic, the answers are not cut and dried. 

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Does "quaranteaming" break social distancing guidelines?

To practice social distancing1, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), says people should avoid gathering in large or small groups, both in public and private settings (like your friend's house). They should also limit close contact with individuals outside their household. 

"The goal of social distancing is to get the number of contacts—direct and indirect—to the lowest possible number you can," integrative medicine physician Aditi Nerurkar, M.D., MPH, tells mindbodygreen. 

Based on that information, "quaranteaming" with people you don't normally live with defies social distancing.

Is "quaranteaming" unsafe?

In theory, if you and the people you plan on living with have been practicing social distancing, washing their hands thoroughly, and wearing masks in public—and plan on continuing to do so—it might be safe to live together. 

However, it is still less safe than living alone or with the people you've already been living with. This is because it's difficult to completely monitor other people's hygiene practices. By moving and changing the people you'll now be coming into close contact with, you're increasing potential person-to-person transmission. 

"The more exposure you have is counterproductive," Richard Martinello, M.D., associate professor of infectious diseases at Yale, tells TODAY. "You're in effect exposing yourself to everyone that additional person was exposed to."

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Are there any potential benefits?

For people who live alone and struggle with depression or anxiety, physical contact might be critical for reducing their symptoms. In this case, moving in with at least one other person might be beneficial for your mental health.

Additionally, the rate of domestic violence cases has increased since shelter-in-place orders were enacted. If you're living somewhere where you're physically or emotionally unsafe, then it may definitely be safer to move out and live somewhere else if possible. 

"If a person experiencing violence has the option to safely leave and live with a protective friend or family member, the benefits of this could outweigh the risks," director of behavioral health at University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center Sarah Woods, Ph.D., tells us. "In this case, I would not call it 'quaranteaming,' but 'lifesaving.'"

On the other hand, if your current living situation is irritating but safe overall, the best thing to do is stay in place. "We might simply use these times to develop our relationship skills," psychologist Perpetua Neo, DClinPsy, tells us. "We can learn how to communicate better, have better empathy, be a better listener, and fight fairly."

Bottom line. 

If you're constantly getting into conflicts with your family or losing your patience with roommates, try to identify your emotions and set boundaries. As long as you're mentally and physically safe where you are, staying in place is the most effective way to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

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