Robin Schoenthaler, MD
6 min readApr 6, 2021

Dr. Robin’s Covid-19 Updates

Dr. Covid, Party Pooper

Navigating a Partially-Vaccinated World

Photo by Austrian National Library on Unsplash

I have an old pal named Julia who lives in a nearby state. I don’t get to see her very often but I was going to be in her town for a few hours last Thursday so we made arrangements to meet up.

She’s going through (like so many other people) a terrible divorce situation, a hideous mess, and I was glad to have the chance to see her in person.

I’m completely vaccinated but she’s not. How to meet up safely?

We thought about going for a walk but the forecast was for temps in the 30s. We wondered if we might be safe to eat a restaurant meal because she was pretty sure she had Covid in March 2020 when she had been super sick and in bed for two weeks.

This was in the early days when there weren’t many cases or tests, and they didn’t run a Covid test on her. But her flu and strep tests were negative so her doctor said it was probably Covid.

I really wanted to eat in a restaurant with Julia.

Still, there wasn’t any proof she’d really had Covid and to make matters worse a (notoriously unreliable) antibody test in May had been negative.

Besides, even if she did have Covid, we still don’t know exactly how long immunity lasts after infection — at least 90 days and probably a year or two — but we just don’t know yet.

So I texted, “Walk: yes, food: no.”

Julia wrote, “This is what happens when you’re friends with Dr Covid.”

I texted back, “LOL, so true, my real name is “Dr Covid, Party Pooper.” And we made plans for a bundled-up walk.

But then Thursday morning she texted me again and said she had a developed a nasty chest cold overnight. “If I feel better later do you think we can meet up anyways?” She added, “My Protestant work ethic hates it when I cancel plans.”

I wrote back and said, “No darling, we have to cancel, you’re full of germies.” She told me she was getting Covid tested after lunch so we hopped on the phone and had a nice chat, some about Covid, but mostly about our kids. She has two little boys, I have two big boys, we had a lot to talk about even though in my role as “Dr. Covid, Party…

Robin Schoenthaler, MD

Covid-Translator. Cancer doc: ~Three decades at MGH. Writer and storyteller: Moth Grand Slam Champion. Mom., @robinshome,