Why is Social Distancing SO Important?

March 18, 2020

Risk Mitigation

Professional sports have been suspended, long-anticipated galas and spring weddings are canceled or postponed, restaurants and bars are closed due to social distancing. We are all feeling the impact of COVID-19 but what does social distancing actually mean and why is it so important to take it to heart?

Social distancing is a risk mitigation tactic used to try to slow the transmission of disease during epidemics/pandemics. It is the deliberate action of increasing the physical space between people to avoid the further spread of the illness. The goal is to decrease the risk of infecting a lot of people at the same time as well as protect our high-risk friends and relatives from exposure to COVID-19. By social distancing, we are trying to “flatten the curve”; which refers to using protective practices such as social distancing to slow the rate of COVID-19 infection so hospitals have enough rooms, supplies, nurses, and doctors for all of the patients who need care. We now know that for every individual who gets infected, two to three others will also be infected. It’s more important now than ever to stay inside and keep that 6′ space.

So now we know why we should social distance but how can we do it well? How flat can we get the curve??

  1. Stay 6′ or more feet away from other people. Envision standing at least a yoga mat, medium couch, or dining room table distance from people.
  2. Avoid public places if you cannot stay at least 6′ away from other people. You should be at home as much as possible. Time to catch up with immediate family, hobbies (needlepoint is a great option), or maybe finally watch that binge-worthy show you’ve been too busy for.
  3. Go to the grocery stores early in the morning or off-hours to avoid crowds.
  4. Keep gatherings to less than 10 people and ensure the gathering space allows people to stand 6′ away from others.
  5. Postpone gatherings of over 10 people for a later date. If you cannot postpone, ask guests who may be sick to stay home.
  6. Limit or stop visiting older relatives, move to seeing them via video or talking on the phone. If you are in the same room keep your distance from your older relatives, they are at high risk from COVID-19.
  7. Avoid physical contact. Absolutely no handshaking or hugs.
  8. When returning from travel, distance yourself from others for 14 days.
  9. If you live at home with an elderly person or high-risk individual, disinfect surfaces as much as possible, wash your hands and keep a distance of at least 6 feet. If you feel yourself getting sick, isolate yourself from the at-risk individual.

The fewer people that become infected the better, doctors and nurses are on the front lines, let’s do our part by not doing anything. Time to stay at home and hit the couch, get that 1,000 piece puzzle out, start a new book, teach your kid how to tie their shoelaces, create some lifelong memories. It is really difficult right now but we will look back at this time in history and remember the time we spent doing our part to keep this virus from spreading to each other. Each person has an important role in slowing the spread and limiting the transmission of COVID-19. Do your part, don’t do anything.

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