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Should housekeepers keep coming?

My housekeepers, a married couple, come for two hours once a week. They are both masked. While they are here cleaning my house, I’m in the study working at my computer. I put a mask on when they come into the room at different times for about two minutes each. I am over 70 and have significant medical risk factors. I wonder if I should ask them to stop coming (they would be paid anyway) until the pandemic is behind us.

— John W. Barton, Ashland

John, SYA posed this question to Jackson County Medical Director Dr. Jim Shames, and it turns out the county’s highest-ranking public health official can relate to your dilemma.

“We used to have somebody come in and help us clean our house, and we haven’t done that since March,” he said.

According to Shames, while we still don’t know all there is to know about how the virus spreads in an enclosed space, we do know that it is certainly more dangerous than its spreading potential outdoors. And this is true, he said, “whether you’re masked or unmasked, whether the circulation indoors is good, or whether you have the windows open.”

Guarantees have been elusive, but you can take steps to make your home safer, Shames said. In this case, he recommends leaving the house when your cleaners are doing their job, leaving the windows and doors open “for a while” and clean frequently touched surfaces.

In the end, he added, you should use your best judgment.

“There are so many decisions like that in our lives and we just have to do a risk-benefit analysis that matches our needs,” Shames said.

Send questions to “Since You Asked,” Mail Tribune Newsroom, P.O. Box 1108, Medford, OR 97501; or by email to youasked@rosebudmedia.com. We’re sorry, but the volume of questions received prevents us from answering all of them.