You may not have heard of social distancing until the recent COVID-19 pandemic. Many people have posted on social media the ways in which they are practicing social distancing. So, what is this new practice?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) defines social distancing as “remaining out of congregate settings, avoiding mass gatherings and maintaining distance (approximately six feet) from others when possible.” The CDC’s most recent recommendation is to avoid gatherings of more than 10 people.
It is important to practice social distancing and to take it seriously during this pandemic because COVID-19 is highly contagious and can be easily spread from one person to another. The chances of the virus spreading quickly and to many people are highly likely in large gatherings. Practicing social distancing helps to reduce opportunities for disease transmission, therefore reducing the number of sick patients and decreasing the burden on healthcare systems and healthcare workers.
You may have heard that social distancing will help to “flatten the curve.” Social distancing helps to prevent a quick spike in patients who are affected by the disease, which gives hospitals and healthcare workers more time to prepare and to take precautions to help protect us all.
By practicing social distancing, you are not only protecting yourself, but everyone that you could potentially come into contact with as well. Although the symptoms of COVID-19 can take up to 14 days to appear, you can still carry the virus and pass it on to others without realizing it.
Any person of any age and health status can become infected with this coronavirus; however, the elderly and those who are immunocompromised (i.e., people with cancer, heart disease, diabetes and other chronic conditions) are most susceptible and tend to have the most severe infections from the virus. By choosing to practice social distancing, you are protecting the most vulnerable people as well.
Of course, there are situations in which you may not be able to practice social distancing completely. Many people, especially healthcare workers, still have to go to work. People still have to get groceries for their families or go to the pharmacy to pick up prescription medications. However, if we all do our part and distance ourselves unless it is absolutely necessary, we can help to slow the spread of this disease. This will truly be a team effort, but we are all in this together.
In today’s society, many of us are used to being on the go, so social distancing may be difficult for some. However, it does not have to be lonely or boring! Here are just a few ideas of things that you can do while you are at home:
- Go for a walk outside to get some fresh air.
- Video chat or call your family or friends.
- Read a new book.
- Cook or bake something you have been wanting to try for a while.
- Start a new project around the house, or do some yard work.
- Find in-home workouts to do.
By: Catherine Hill, CHES Augusta Health Community Outreach