In the time of the coronavirus pandemic, it’s best to stay inside where you can read a good book, enjoy a few coronavirus memes, and catch up on all those Netflix shows piling up in your queue. But it’s important to remember that social distancing is not a snow day. It’s a way to responsibly slow down the coronavirus outbreak. So, how does social distancing slow down an outbreak?
Well, if you have seen the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s much shared graph aimed at “flattening the curve” you know that self-quarantining could have a big impact on combating the spread of COVID-19. Without public intervention, which includes social distancing or the conscious effort of reducing close contact between people, roughly a third of Americans — more than 100 million people — could get coronavirus, according to The New York Times. Limiting our interactions with other people now will lessen the rate of infection and deaths from the disease later. Basically, we all need to work together as a community by staying apart.
So what are the rules of social distancing? The dos and don'ts of self-quarantining during coronavirus are simple. If you are able to work from home, do so. Instead of going out to the movies or a bar, stay in. Cancel playdates and hangouts at other peoples’ homes for the time being. Reschedule that date or plan on getting creative. Limiting your exposure to people outside of those you share a home with will lessen the risk of spreading the disease. When in small gatherings try to keep your distance — the recommendation is at least six feet apart, according to Dr. Asaf Bitton — and wash your hands frequently.
Yes, you can go outside for a walk or a bike ride, but again, maintain a safe distance. However, try to limit unnecessary trips to coffee shops or the gym; it’s best to be home as much as possible. When grocery shopping, try to go during off-peak hours to mitigate exposure to others. When you are out, assume surfaces are not being cleaned as often as necessary. Coronavirus can survive on metal for up to five days, glass for four to five days, and plastic for up to nine days, according to a study recently conducted by the Journal of Hospital Infection — so wash your hands before touching your face. In general, wash your hands frequently and use hand sanitizer when unable to wash with soap and water. If you are feeling ill, contact your medical professional so they can help you figure out the next steps.
While the CDC has advised that the most vulnerable to coronavirus — those over 60 and those with underlying medical conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, and lung disease — should “avoid crowds as much as possible,” all of us should heed that advice.
Why? Well, as Emily Landon, an infectious disease specialist and hospital epidemiologist at the University of Chicago Medicine, told Vox, “If more of us do that, we will slow the spread of the disease. That means my mom and your mom will have a hospital bed if they need it.” The more healthy and young people who practice social distancing the better we will all be.
Now, self-quarantining might sound like a rather lonely undertaking, but that’s what our phones are for, right? You don’t need to halt all communication just because you’re limiting your person-to-person interaction. Give your grandma a call or FaceTime your friends and family. It’s a way to feel connected without any worry about getting someone else sick. Right now, is there anything more reassuring than that?
COVID-19 has been declared a global pandemic. Go to the CDC website for the latest information on symptoms, prevention, and other resources.