During the current Coronavirus (COVID-19) emergency social distancing has become a common practice. Here we discuss what social distancing is and how to practice social distancing.
What is Social Distancing?
Social distancing means to give space between you and another person. Social distancing is done to stop or slow down the spread of a contagious disease such as Coronavirus (COVID-19). There are a number of things that are done to prevent the spread of disease when practicing social distancing. These include closing schools, non-essential workplaces, limiting travel, shutting down mass transit, self-isolating at home, cancelling mass gatherings such as concerts and sport events, and closing gyms and exercise facilities. Other things that are done during social distancing is staying away from others (at least 6 feet), avoiding direct contact with others such as shaking hands, and not touching your face.
In addition to the current Coronavirus (COVID-19) emergency, social distancing had been used previously in the 1916 New York city polio epidemic, the Spanish flu in 1918 and 1919, and the SARS outbreak in 2003. When social distancing measures are followed carefully, the spread of a disease such as Coronavirus (COVID-19) can be reduced significantly. The spread of a disease can be measure by the number of cases (morbidity) or the number of deaths (mortality). These numbers can be graphed over time to see how fast the disease spreads. Usually doctors look at doubling time, which means the time it takes for the number of cases or deaths to double in a given area such as a city, state, or country. The longer the doubling time the better. Initially the slope of this curve rises. But over time, as the disease is controlled the line becomes flat and starts to go down. This is called flattening the curve. Social distancing is an effective method to flatten the curve.
Why do I need to practice Social Distancing?
The reason to practice social distancing is to decrease the spread of a disease such as Coronavirus (COVID-19). One of the most common misconceptions is that if you feel healthy you do not need to isolate yourself. Unfortunately, this is not the case. The reason is as follows: Just like the common flu, many people are infected with Coronavirus (COVID-19) without even knowing it. Some people have no symptoms and their bodies fight off the Coronavirus (COVID-19) without them knowing it. This is what makes Coronavirus (COVID-19) so dangerous, because these people are still contagious and can spread Coronavirus (COVID-19) to other people without knowing it. And those people who subsequently become infected can become very sick and possibly spread it to others. So if everyone stays home as much as possible, we can successfully eliminate the Coronavirus (COVID-19).
During the Spanish flu epidemic in 1918, the town of Gunniston, CO isolated itself for two months. No one was allowed to leave the town and anyone coming in was required to be quarantined for five days. As a result, nobody in this city died of the flu during this time. Other areas subsequently adopted similar measures. So we know that social distancing works.
How do I practice Social Distancing?
Practicing social distancing is actually very easy, but it can be stressful. Basically, you need to stay home for an appropriate amount of time such as two or more weeks. If you go outside, stay at least six feet away from others and avoiding touching areas where other people touch regularly such as doorknobs, handrails, and elevator buttons. You can use a napkin to touch these objects and throw it away right away. Make sure you wash your hands thoroughly and often. Simply cleaning your hands will significantly reduce the risk of getting Coronavirus (COVID-19). You can also use hand sanitizer if you’re not near a sink.
What can I do when Social Distancing?
Staying at home can be very stressful and cause a great deal of anxiety because most people are used to going out every day to work, take children to school, go to the gym, etc. It’s important to stay healthy. Worrying will not help; in fact, worrying makes things worse. Worrying causes anxiety, which leads to stress. When your body is stressed out, your immune system gets weaker. This makes it more likely that you will get sick from Coronavirus (COVID-19) or another virus. There are some other things you can do strengthen your immune system. One is to get enough sleep. This is the perfect time to catch up on lost sleep. Getting enough sleep boosts your immune system and decreases the risk of you getting infected with Coronavirus (COVID-19). Also try to get some exercise. You can go outside and walk around your neighborhood. The exercise and fresh air are great for your body. Just be sure to only go with people that live with you and stay at least six feet away from others. You can say hello to others, just keep your distance. Also be sure to drink a lot of water. Staying hydrated, along with getting enough sleep and an appropriate amount of exercise will protect your body from disease.
Other things you can do include reading or watching movies. This is the perfect time to read a book that you’ve always wanted to or binge watch shows or movies. There are great services where you can order food and groceries online and have them delivered to your house so you don’t have to go out. Pick up a hobby and do it at home. One of the best things you can do is call some friends or family that you haven’t spoken with in a while. It’s a perfect time to catch up.
Thank you to everyone who is doing their part to limit the spread of Coronavirus (COVID-19) by practicing social distancing. We look forward to going back to our normal activities soon.
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