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VERIFY | 'Germ Bubbles' help control coronavirus exposure

The idea of linking up with a few other families to quarantine together is welcome news for people who have felt isolated during COVID-19, but is it safe?

ATLANTA — Social isolation can be really difficult - especially for families with small kids who might not understand the need to stay apart during COVID-19.

So when 11Alive heard this new term "germ bubble", we thought it might be too good to be true. The idea is to form a group with one or two other families - you can all see each other - but not anyone else.

It sounds exciting for people who are sick of the quarantine - but does it work. We sent 11Alive's Kaitlyn Ross out to verify. 

THE QUESTION

 Do germ bubbles work?

THE ANSWER

When everyone is following the rules, yes. Germ bubbles can work.

WHAT WE FOUND

In her own words, here's what 11Alive's Kaitlyn Ross was able to find out by talking to a doctor and others in the community.

"Welcome to my germ bubble."

That's how my brother greeted me after not seeing him for three months this past weekend. It's a concept his family has been practicing during the quarantine, but I didn't know what to make of it.

They basically formed a tight circle of friends who only see each other and talk frequently about any exposure to COVID-19 any of them may have had to keep all of them safe.

Turns out, he's not the only one.

On Facebook, Autumn and Aubri both told me they were doing the same, but called it their Quarenteam and Quarantine Crew.

I guess that sounds better than germ bubble.

"The germ bubble, or as I like to call it, the quaran-family," said ER Dr. Mehrdod Ehteshami.

Does it work?

Ehteshami has been treating COVID-19 patients since the first cases were diagnosed in Georgia.. He said he's been advocating for these germ bubbles just as long.

"Everything needs a plan. What I have been preaching is that from this point on, we can do fun things, but we have to be wise about it," he said. 

The first rule of the germ bubble.

"The rules are, well, first of all, you're going to have to be able to trust that person that they'll follow the rules," he said. 

He said it's important to be on the same page as the other families in your germ bubble. Talk through what's an acceptable level of exposure - like going to the grocery store - and what's not - like dining inside a restaurant.

On Facebook, Emily said  that's what she's doing with the family of her daughter's friend. Ehteshami said that's exactly how it's supposed to work.

"We have to be on the same page." 

"We have to abide by the same rules, and you have to go through all the scenarios that could come about," he said.

Ehteshami recommends that everyone gets tested for COVID-19 before you start hanging out together and quarantine completely until the results come back negative. Then you have to be willing to speak up if something doesn't feel right.

"You have to have a straight shooter approach to it, and know that if you break the rules, you have to call it off," he said. 

But if you all agree to the same rules, and all agree to follow them, we can verify that yes, germ bubbles work.

11Alive is focusing our news coverage on the facts and not the fear around the virus. We want to keep you informed about the latest developments while ensuring that we deliver confirmed, factual information.

We will track the most important coronavirus elements relating to Georgia on this page. Refresh often for new information.

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