As COVID-19 cases rise, keep your bubble small, secure and strict

CHICAGO (WLS) -- With Covid number increasing in Chicago, Mayor Lori Lightfoot has sent a letter to more than 300 businesses and community organizations, making a list of suggestions, including that residents "recommit to a personal bubble."

Click here to read Lightfoot's letter to Chicago residents

"Who in your life do you interact with without a face covering?" the mayor writes. "That number should not be more than 6 individuals, and preferably only include those in your household."

The term "bubble" has been used throughout the pandemic, indicating the number of people you interact with without a mask.

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COVID-19 survivor Yuli Diaz, a Triton College student, knows the importance of keeping her bubble small, secure and strict. She is hyper-aware of everyone in her bubble.

"I'm very limited about who comes around me, where I go, what I do," Diaz said. "I'm very strict with family members, saying, 'Hey, you can't go there because you're going to be next to me.' I already went through it once, I don't know if I can do it again."

Diaz survived COVID-19, but she spent 54 days in the hospital, and 22 of those days were on a ventilator. Now, her bubble is just her household.

"The max, seven people," she said. "That includes my mom, three siblings, my boyfriend, and my dogs, literally that's it!"

So what does a the bubble mean right now, especially with cases rising?

"This is the time to be really mindful and restrictive about who is in your bubble," said Dr. Allison Bartlett, Associate Medical Director of Infection Prevention at University of Chicago Medicine. "We are going to have be to be more aggressive about tightening up. It's poorly timed with all the holidays."

Dr. Bartlett said if families are strict, you could have two households in your bubble. She said people who are single could also have bubbles, if they're diligent.

"I have six single friends and we're going to be a bubble together," she said hypothetically. "That can be safely done if those six friends agree that's the group you are going to spend time with."

If an outsider enters the bubble, Dr. Bartlett warned the risk of COVID-19 increases, especially if masks are off and there's eating and drinking.

"Maybe this is the year we don't all go to grandma's house for Thanksgiving because, as tough as it that is, it can be potentially very dangerous for grandma," Dr. Bartlett said.

And at 23 years old, Diaz knows that's a message not just for her family, but also her friends.

"You're not going to die if you miss a party," Diaz said. "But you will die if you might get COVID. Just avoid it at all costs."

Along with recommitting to the bubble, Mayor Lightfoot also offered the following suggestions in her letter:

- Do not have guests in your home unless they are essential workers (e.g. home healthcare providers, or childcare workers).
- Wear a face covering in all indoor and outdoor public settings, including your building's elevators, hallways, and mailroom.
- If you must have a non-household member enter your residence, keep your face coverings on for the duration of the visit.
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