Quarantine phrases that we’re absolutely sick of hearing

By Physician Sense
Published September 14, 2020

Key Takeaways

Seemingly no aspect of American life has escaped the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. That includes the way we communicate. Social distancing and contact precautions have not only changed the mediums we use to communicate, but also language itself. Phrases you’d never dreamed of prior to the pandemic have now become a part of everyday parlance. Here are 8 that simply have to go.

“Let’s Zoom”

Let’s not. You never wanted to talk to your in-laws to begin with. Now you have to see them, too. Remember that the pandemic forced many physicians to reluctantly embrace telemedicine. That means their days are already loaded with screen time (on top of EHR stenography time). Who wants more after a day of diagnosing rashes of unknown origin over an unstable internet connection? Hard pass.

“Mask up”

Masks are essential right now. But are you Batman? Do you have to “mask up” before you eradicate the injustice of your dwindling toilet paper and hand sanitizer supplies? Take a breath and put your mask on. 

“New normal.”

That’s deep, bro. Please tell us more about your nuanced worldview, economic insights, and well-researched opinions. Add this to the list of other oxymoronic, meaningless phrases people use. “Alone together” is another example of a gem born from the pandemic. Remember when internet-connected smartphones, wireless internet, and enhanced airport security were the “new normal.” There’s always another “new normal” just around the corner! 


AKA, acne mechanica, skin blemishes that are caused or exacerbated by friction with an object, surface, or fabric, such as a mask. Maskne is real, but the term is really annoying. Mostly because it forces people to dwell on a superficial reason not to wear a mask. (You’re welcome, dermatologists.) A recent New York Times article highlights advice from multiple dermatologists, including keeping masks clean (treat them like underwear), limiting use of makeup and cosmetics, and using gentle, non-soap based cleansers. 

“Don’t drink bleach”

We thought this went without saying, but 2020 has been full of surprises. While a potent disinfectant, bleach should not be used on or in living tissue. Apparently some Americans are unaware. An online CDC survey of 502 American adults revealed that 19% had used bleach on food, 18% had cleaned themselves with disinfectants, 6% had inhaled vapors from cleaning products, and 4% had gargled diluted bleach, soapy water, or other disinfectants.

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