Everyone must practice social distancing
What is social distancing?
Social distancing is a public health strategy used to decrease the spread of illnesses that travel via respiratory droplets. It means keeping a distance of six feet between you and another person when at all possible. It means avoiding all non-essential social engagements. Finally, it’s keeping yourself quarantined at home if you’re infected or thought to be infected.
Why should we engage in social distancing?
When you cough, sneeze or blow your nose, tiny droplets of mucus and saliva escape and carry with them billions of viral particles. When you touch your mouth, nose or eyes, you may contaminate your hand with viral particles which can be spread to others. Those viral particles exist to infect other people. We want to deprive them of that opportunity by keeping out of distance of a cough, sneeze, nose-blow, or careless touch. By engaging in social distancing, we hope to:
- keep you from getting sick
- slow the spread of COVID-19
- protect hospitals and emergency rooms from being overwhelmed by more patients than there is capacity for care
- decrease the chances healthcare workers will become ill.
Does social distancing work?
Yes. During the 2009 H1N1 influenza pandemic, research demonstrated that social distancing significantly reduced the spread of the virus. Computer modeling research in Singapore during the present COVID-19 pandemic has also suggested that social distancing will have a significant impact on reducing the number of future cases.
But I am not sick. Must I do this?
Yes. The incubation period (the time from infection to symptom onset) of the SARS-CoV-2 virus averages about 4 days. Evidence suggests that people are spreading the virus before they have symptoms. In other words, you cannot be sure you are not infected. You cannot be sure the person next to you is not infected. Be cautious, so you don’t have to be afraid.
What about my elderly or sick neighbor?
If you are healthy, not at-risk for spreading COVID-19 to vulnerable people and capable of helping your elderly or sick neighbor, you may cautiously do so. Please exercise contagion precautions as described on the Centers for Disease Control website. Extraordinary circumstances may call for extraordinary measures. But ordinarily, continue to utilize social distancing.
This is hard.
Yes, it is. Human beings are inherently social creatures. I have four active children and a very social wife. I am a hand-shaker and a hugger. Remembering yourself and reminding others to keep a healthy distance takes intentionality and diligence.
How long do we have to keep this practice up?
We don’t know yet. Along with our public health officials, I urge you to persevere. Together we can endure this pandemic. Encourage one another to socially distance.
This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.
Provided by: Steven Langdon, M.D., Family Medicine
To learn more, contact Dr. Langdon's office at 812-539-2599.