DEAR HARRIETTE: Every summer, I invite my niece and nephew from Italy to come stay with me and my family. Travel hasn't really opened up yet, so this summer hasn't been an issue, but I anticipate that travel will be relaxed soon enough. I am afraid to have them come. Italy was hit hard by COVID-19, and my elderly mother lives with me. I worry that if I bring these young people into my home directly from one of the hardest-hit countries, I could be killing her. I love having them come, though. And they look forward to it so much. How should I handle this? -- Overseas Visitors
DEAR OVERSEAS VISITORS: This may be the year that you put that trans-Atlantic visit on pause. We won't know for some time whether or not the virus is under control. According to Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director for the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, until there is a vaccine, we won't have it under control. Yes, we have to live our lives. But we do not want to put anyone at risk, particularly our most vulnerable population, which includes elders.
I suggest that you wait until next year, when we have more information. As disappointed as they may be at first, they will have to understand. This international epidemic is real and needs to be respected. At the time of writing this column, we have topped 110,000 deaths in America. That is a sobering statistic. Be part of the solution by being extremely cautious. Use videoconferencing and other outlets to stay in touch. Plan the visit for a year from now.
DEAR HARRIETTE: My husband and I seem to be having a standoff in the kitchen. Our agreement years ago was that if I cooked, he would clean the kitchen. We both work. I often work long hours, even now when we are at home. But he leaves the dishes in the sink overnight pretty consistently, then washes them in the morning. That means we get roaches sometimes because we live in an apartment building. You can't leave food out and expect no repercussions. When I try to bring this up to him, he just blows me off and says, "I washed them, didn't I? What's your problem?" He doesn't get it at all. But I don't want to have to do every single thing in the house. How can I get him to participate more fully? It's not my house; it's our house. -- Need His Help
DEAR NEED HIS HELP: Revisit your household chores agreement when you aren't upset. Tell your husband that you want to refresh how you two handle your duties. Point out that there's a lot to do, and you are inviting him to work with you to improve on the upkeep of your home. Do an inventory of chores with him, including the kitchen -- but not singularly the kitchen. Ask for his input. What does he think needs to be done to maintain the home? Be sure to mention eliminating roaches and possible vermin. Ask him to recommit to cleaning the kitchen in a timely manner. You may consider spending time with him in the kitchen. Can you two talk and clean at the same time? Fostering togetherness might help inspire him to take action.