Covid Points


I walked in the door, arms laden with bags from my shopping excursion. 

“Ugh! I had to go to three stores. I have definitely used all my Covid points for the day!” I announced.

What are Covid points you ask? Well, I’m not sure how it first started, but we’ve fallen into the habit of planning and considering our potential outings (and exposure risk) in terms of Covid points, and we’ve placed ourselves on a sort of  budget. The higher the potential exposure risk, the higher the number of points spent. Our goal is to use a minimal amount of points, ideally zero. Covid points have quickly become a part of the household’s vernacular and part of our mental calculations as we plan our day. 

Determining the Covid price tag for each experience is a partially subjective process. You need to consider current guidelines and science, look at the risks, the benefits, your individual situation (physical and mental) and decide whether you’re willing to pay those hypothetical points. Of course, you do whatever you can to mitigate the risk–wear a mask, use sanitizer, social distance, etc. Still, those things don’t make you invulnerable. Keeping a casual mental tally of Covid points spent helps me keep this in mind. You may think it borders on paranoia, but it works for me. (On a side note, being paranoid in the midst of a pandemic isn’t necessarily a bad thing!)

As a household we are luckily in pretty solid agreement about what constitutes a risk and about the need to conservatively use our Covid points.  If we spend more points than usual one day, we try to spend fewer points the next day or two. Store exposure feels like one of our higher costs, but we have to eat and occasionally need something at the hardware store, so we condense our trips and go as seldom as possible. To be clear, going to three stores in one day was highly unusual for me and a huge Covid point expenditure. The cost of in-restaurant dining, even at 50% capacity, is out of our budget. We’re so frugal, we’re not even convinced that outside dining is worth the Covid points. We haven’t gotten haircuts since at least February, and don’t even talk to us about going bowling or to the movies. Flying somewhere? Ha!

On the other hand, hanging out on the back porch expends no points. Neither does cooking, baking, reading or spending time in the garden. Connecting with friends and relatives via letters, Zoom visits or phone calls is a freebie. Around here, going to the beach very early in the day or late in the afternoon is pretty low cost. Hikes and walks on less popular paths are, too. We’re fortunate to have many such options.


day’s heat ebbs
the tide rolls in
evening beach respite

We’ve come to the conclusion that our safest bet is to continue limiting our exposure as much as we can. Maine, thank goodness, under the leadership of our governor, is doing well. Still, we play it safe–for both ourselves and for others. Until things change markedly for the better or until we have no choice (i.e., going back to school), we’re sticking to our budget.

So, what are you spending your Covid points on or what are your favorite no-cost or low-cost activities?