Friday, March 31, 2023
HomeFeaturesFamily & ParentingSocial Distancing: What It Is & Why We Should Do It

Social Distancing: What It Is & Why We Should Do It

By Kathy Brown.

As the mother of an immunocompromised adolescent, and the daughter of an 82 year old man with COPD, I am taking this seriously. This is why you should take it seriously as well.

According to a Newsweek article published this morning, “More than 152,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 5,393 deaths have been reported, according to the World Health Organization as of Sunday morning, as the new coronavirus pandemic spreads around the world.”

Social distancing is a form of virus control where people stay apart. Schools are closed until at least March 31, restaurants, bars, and gyms are now shut down in Connecticut as well. The government is taking it seriously. This is not the time for playdates and sleepovers, nor is it a time where you should have all of your friends over for a party or to meet a group of ten to go for a walk.  It isn’t going to stop you from going outside and getting some fresh air; in fact, fresh air is great. But social distancing is necessary if we don’t want to end up like China or Italy. Here are the most current stats of the disease:

© Provided by Quartz Death rate for every 100,000 people in Philadelphia and St. Louis between Sep 14, 1918 and Dec 28, 1918.

In 1918, a little more than 100 years ago, we had an outbreak of the “Spanish Flu.” Some cities made changes, and some did not. Here is a chance for us to learn from our own history. St. Louis canceled their parade, and Philadelphia did not. Philadelphia had 200,000 people attend their Liberty Loan parade; by the end of that week, 4,500 people were dead. By comparison in St. Louis, within two days of its first cases, St. Louis closed schools, playgrounds, libraries, churches, and more, and they had fewer than half of the deaths per capita as Philadelphia.

Social distancing is meant to break the cycle of infection. For someone who has been exposed to the virus, or someone that has traveled to one of the pandemic areas, for instance, there is isolation or quarantine. For the rest of us, we should be keeping away from other people as much as we can. That means we should think twice (or more) about going out in public; only go if it is necessary. And if you do go, stay a safe distance from other people (CDC recommends at least six feet). If you’re stocking up, stock up on non-perishables: pasta, rice, dried beans, flour, sugar, canned meats and vegetables so you can stay in longer than two weeks if necessary.  If you’re in an older age bracket or are immunocompromised, maybe someone else can run that necessary errand for you. If you do need to go, wash your hands before and after, and don’t touch your face. I’ve been wiping down my steering wheel after each drive as well. Remember that if you’re child goes on a playdate, your child is exposed to everyone in that house, PLUS everyone that those people have had contact with in the last two weeks. If you meet your friends for coffee, you’re exposed to them, plus everyone they’ve had contact with in the last two weeks, and everyone they’ve had contact with in the previous two weeks.

The government’s goal of social distancing is to flatten the curve of transmission so that if and when people get sick, our healthcare system will be able to handle it. Below is a graph showing what social distancing can accomplish.

CDC recommendations for the general population:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds especially after you have been in a public place, or after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
  • If soap and water are not readily available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. Cover all surfaces of your hands and rub them together until they feel dry.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick
  • Put distance between yourself and other people if COVID-19 is spreading in your community. This is especially important for people who are at higher risk of getting very sick.
  • Stay home if you are sick, except to get medical care.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze or use the inside of your elbow.
  • Throw used tissues in the trash. Immediately wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not readily available, clean your hands with a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
  • Clean AND disinfect frequently touched surfaces daily. This includes tables, doorknobs, light switches, countertops, handles, desks, phones, keyboards, toilets, faucets, and sinks.
  • If surfaces are dirty, clean them: Use detergent or soap and water prior to disinfection.

As of March 15, 2020, the CDC has issued a recommendation that “for the next eight weeks, organizers cancel or postpone in-person events that consist of 50 people or more throughout the United States.” They also have a page where you can see the latest updates for COVID-19.

The CDC recommends this for high-risk individuals because of age or pre-existing conditions:

  • Stock up on supplies.
  • Take everyday precautions to keep space between yourself and others.
  • When you go out in public, keep away from others who are sick, limit close contact and wash your hands often.
  • Avoid crowds as much as possible.
  • Avoid cruise travel and non-essential air travel.
  • During a COVID-19 outbreak in your community, stay home as much as possible to further reduce your risk of being exposed.

Check on those high risk individuals by phone or email to ensure that they stay healthy, and see if they need anything if you need to go out on an errand.

Keep small businesses in mind during this time. My husband and I had an appointment with a lawyer for this evening; we chose to do our business by phone and email instead of an in-office visit. Order takeout from a restaurant since we can no longer eat at them, so that they don’t need to close their doors forever. Order a gym membership for when this is over to keep the gyms in business. Purchase a gift certificate for later. See the upcoming article on how to support small businesses in our area.

On the bright side, there are ways this is pulling the community together. Blue Fire Stage Company is hosting a Virtual Showcase for students to share their talent. Regional School District #17 is providing meals for children during the school shutdown (see this article for more information).

Are you looking for something to do for you or your children? Here are some ideas:

  • These museums are offering virtual tours:
  • RSD 17 educators have been preparing for this and offer at home learning opportunities on their website. For example, even for Kindergarten, they offer links to online reading sources such as Lexia and PebbleGo. For grade 4, there is math and ELA packets, as well as links to online reading sources, a science resource, and a writing assignment. For grade 8, they have Reading and Math packets as well as online learning at the Holocaust Museum. For high school, the teachers have updated their online classrooms with assignments and resources. There are resources for every grade.
  • Scholastic is offering free online courses while schools are shut down:
  • Celebrities reading stories online:
  • Take a family walk (bring a garbage bag and clean up the roadsides too)
  • Play games – there are many games to play with a simple deck of cards if you don’t have any board games. Teach your child to play Solitaire (I learned when I was 6 years old, and I passed many a day playing). Tweens and teens can learn Trash, Spades, Hearts, Setback, Euchre, and more.
  • Build a puzzle
  • Color
  • Find a pen pal. You know that friend they made at camp, a cousin that they don’t see very often, a grandparent, an aunt or uncle? Have them write a letter, or if they’re too young to write, draw a picture.
  • Play outside. Teach your child how to rake leaves if you didn’t do it in the fall. Plant some seeds.
  • Have the kids help with meals. Measuring items teaches math, as well as reading carefully.
  • Meigs Point Nature Center is doing live nature programs on their Facebook page.
  • Watch Broadway shows from the comfort of your couch with this LINK.

Our communities will get through this because we support each other, and if at the end of this, minimal people get sick, remember, that was the point.



Comments are closed.

Must Read