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“Dear Miss Manners: I have been invited to a BBQ. Should I ask the host to do a Virtual Handshake?”

Recently, an acquaintance of mine reached out to me with an invitation to a small get-together. In the past, this wouldn’t be much of a story at all. However, we live in the age of COVID-19, and any sort of in-person contact needs to now be mulled over. Is it worth it? What risk am I taking by meeting with this person? Who could they potentially be in contact with? After thinking about it, I sent the following response:

“Hi — we are only attending events where everyone has taken the daily self-assessment test and confirm that they have not been exposed to anyone with the virus. And where everyone present can verify using the”

It’s hard to imagine that type of sentence in your inbox or coming out of someone’s mouth a year ago. However, learning to adapt to this type of thinking is key for balancing our social needs and practical health needs. We also have new tools to help here.

Managing Small Get Togethers In A Post-COVID-World

The push and pull of whether or not to host get-togethers has a lot of people in an awkward situation right now. We’re coming to the end of summer, and having just one backyard barbecue is so tempting before the kids go back to school and the weather starts to cool. However, when we see examples of people behaving irresponsibly in the news, it’s only natural to try and pull back from having any gatherings at all. After all, Zoom chats and phone calls for a few more months isn’t such a bad thing, right?

There are a few points to weigh here, including:

The vaccine timeline: There’s a lot of different impressions out there on when we will have a vaccine, and presumably be able to return to some level of normalcy. However, the truth is that no one knows exactly when a vaccine will be readily available. In addition, many people, especially in the U.S., have expressed some level of resistance to taking a vaccine, especially if it were to be released unprecedentedly early.

Mental health: Many are predicting a mental health crisis to come after the pandemic settles. This is for many reasons, from grief to financial loss, but also isolation. Humans are social animals, and we’re not meant to be kept apart from each other for so long. Smart, measured gatherings may be an important part of the healing process.

Necessity: As time goes on, chances are that we’re going to need to start gathering more for non-recreational reasons. Workplaces are starting to open back up, and that means more gatherings. There can be a lot of trepidation, but for those scared about virus spread, small gatherings with people you know you can trust can get you over the hump.

Building A Habit With Virtual Handshakes

So, with this in mind, what’s the medium we have between living solitary lives indefinitely and exposing ourselves to risk? Self-attestation. As nice as it would be for everyone to get daily testing before heading somewhere, that’s just not feasible. Self-attestation is a solution for the times that we are in, and is particularly useful for small, informal get-togethers. Who could you trust more to report accurately than friends and family?

We all need to be ready to change our habits not just for safety, but for comfort. There’s no need to spoil a nice get together because of concerns about whether or not everyone is following the same norms and procedures. When it comes to using self-attestation to get our social lives back on track, Apps like the COVID-PreCheck from make things simple. Visit or use it from

Everyone in your social circle or who will be attending a small get together soon can use the app to perform their own self-assessment or report the results of their formal COVID-19 test. They or their doctor can update the status on the app when they are proven negative, then get a personalized QR code as a result. This code can quickly show everyone at your next get together that they have tested negative for COVID-19, meaning more time enjoying everyone’s company rather than worrying about it.