The World Health Organization (WHO) has recently announced that the current Coronavirus outbreak is now a pandemic. The United States has also recently called in a State of Emergency. As you now probably realize, the Coronavirus is a big deal. Many are worried about what precautions should be taken to minimize their chances of getting or spreading the virus. What many experts are saying to follow is a procedure called “Social Distancing”. But what does it exactly mean, and is it really all that important?
Social distancing is the act of increasing physical space between you and others in order to decrease the spread of the virus. Many states are encouraging social distancing by closing highly packed areas such as universities, clubs, restaurants, concerts, sporting events, and more. While social distancing can’t necessarily halt the spread of a virus completely, it is thought to significantly help us decrease it’s spread. The idea is that with having more distance between you and others, there is a smaller chance that you will come in contact with any possible disease.
Other than following cancellation measures taken by the government, some other ways that you can practice social distancing is by working from home, visiting loved ones through online calling, make use of “televisits” with your physician if needed, cancel large scale meetings, and just avoid going out in general unless absolutely necessary.
Like mentioned earlier, social distancing won’t completely stop the spread of the virus, but is still important to practice. One major reason as to why this is important is because of a concept called “flattening the curve”. Flattening the curve refers to decreasing the rate at which people are infected and require medical attention. The idea is that if we decrease the rate of infection, hospitals and clinics will see a smaller influx of patients needing care. This allows them to attend to patients with proper attention and care. If too many people are contracting the disease and entering care facilities at once, it will be highly likely that medical professionals will not have the resources to properly treat all patients. This is why social distancing is so vital; it allows us to help flatten the curve.
A huge misconception that surrounds social distancing is the idea that “only those who are sick have to practice it”. This thought process is not exactly correct, however. Recent studies are showing that people infected with Coronavirus may not show symptoms for the initial few days. At this time, it can be easy to pass on the virus without even knowing it. Another misconception is that people who are in low-risk groups should be okay to continue their lives as normal. While it is true that low-risk individuals will likely not suffer too extensively from the Coronavirus, they can still easily pass the virus on to someone who will. Low-risk individuals can pose a risk to high-risk ones. Those who are immunocompromised, have pre-existing health conditions, or are 60+ are more likely to suffer more extensively from the virus. It’s important to keep these high-risk individuals in mind and practice social distancing accordingly.
Maragakis, L. L. (n.d.). Coronavirus, Social Distancing and Self Quarantine. Retrieved from Hopkins Medicine : https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/conditions-and-diseases/coronavirus/coronavirus-social-distancing-and-self-quarantine