Social distancing: What to do and what not to do to slow the spread of COVID-19
LOS ANGELES - As world governments become increasingly overwhelmed by rapidly increasing COVID-19 cases, social distancing has risen to the top of the list in the arsenal to fight the spread of the novel coronavirus.
Even amid global shutdowns, isolation measures have yet to become a priority for some residents as people in various cities go about their lives seemingly unconcerned in the face of a global pandemic.
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In San Francisco, groups of people were seen congregating near Golden Gate Park, while Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis called out “spring breakers” following video depicting scores of people gathering at Clearwater Beach, just west of Tampa.
On March 16, the White House suggested that public gatherings be limited to no more than 10 people for the next 15 days while the CDC recommended canceling or postponing in-person events that consist of 50 people or more throughout the U.S.
Here are some tips on how to implement social distancing:
- Places with large crowds such as bars, restaurants, gyms and religious services
- Visiting elderly relatives or those with a high risk of life-threatening complications from the virus
- Traveling, especially to places with a high number of COVID-19 cases
- Be mindful on trips to the grocery store, and when picking up take out, medication or having food delivered to your house. Stay 6 to 8 feet away from others and be aware that COVID-19 can spread from contact with contaminated surfaces.
- Keep 6 to 8 feet of distance when going outside to get some fresh air during self quarantine
Safe things to do during quarantine
- Keep busy by reading, cooking, listening to music and video chatting with friends
- Get exercise by going for a run or walk in an area without crowds to avoid being stir crazy from the lockdowns
- Binge watch movies and television
- Clean your house
Keep your distance
According to the CDC, COVID-19 has been known to spread quickly from person to person most frequently among close contact within 6 feet of someone who is infected.
Take daily precautions
It is important to note that there is still uncertainty regarding how the novel coronavirus evolves and transmits as more and more cases pop up around the world.
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The CDC recommends daily practices to aid in preventing infection:
- Stay home when you are sick, except to get medical care.
- Cover your coughs and sneezes with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom, before eating, and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing. If soap and water are not available, use hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
- Clean frequently touched surfaces and objects daily.
Why social distancing matters
A growing fear of epidemiologists amid the threat of the pandemic is the serious consequences that could result from a lack of proactivity in stopping further spread of the virus by failing to enact crucial precautionary measures.
The vast majority of people who get sick recover from the illness, which could lead some to wonder why measures like a travel ban or cancellations of mass gatherings are necessary.
Simply put, social distancing, event cancellations, working from home and self quarantines are not only about preventing the illness itself, but rather, slowing the rate at which people get sick.
The novel coronavirus is not the only thing that hospitals are currently dealing with, so staying home and doing anything necessary to prevent the spread of the virus keeps pressure off the health care system.
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According to the World Health Organization, people with mild illness recover in about two weeks. But that doesn’t mean that people who recover quickly won’t transfer the COVID-19 virus to someone who is more at risk of serious complications from the virus, such as elderly people or those with pre-existing medical conditions.
A graphic first shared by the CDC shows exactly how social distancing can save lives.
Carl Bergstrom, a biologist at the University of Washington, shared an illustrative graphic from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, praising its simplicity in explaining the need for social distancing measures as confusion about the seriousness of the virus grows.
Many health agencies and public figures are doing what they can to keep people informed on how to stop the spread of COVID-19.
Even Legendary 90s hip-hop group, the Wu-Tang Clan, posted an eponymous acronym containing COVID-19 tips to their Twitter account in hopes of helping people stay safe from the virus.
President Trump has also endorsed the practice of social distancing on his Twitter account, as the need to avoid large crowds and stay sanitized becomes crucial.