Social distancing is one of the best tools – after hand washing, of course! – which can slow the spread of COVID-19 infections. Social distancing refers to avoiding unnecessary mingling, contact, circulation, travel, and crowding to minimize the spread of the coronavirus. Examples of places to minimize exposure to include restaurants, mass transit, malls, movie theaters, sporting events, airports, cruises, and religious gatherings.
COVID-19 mainly spreads from person-to-person. Specifically between people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet) through respiratory droplets produced as an infected person coughs or sneezes. Social distancing gives enough space that the infection cannot be transmitted.
Does This Mean Quarantine?
Social distancing is not the same as isolation or quarantine. Isolation refers to separating someone with a confirmed infection and quarantine is restricting movements of someone who might have been exposed to an infection but isn’t yet diagnosed. Social distancing, on the other hand, involves actions currently healthy, non-infected people can take to as a public health tool to (ideally) slow the spread of an outbreak in their community.
Special Concerns for Those with Underlying Health Issues
Social distancing is particularly important for people who are at higher risk of getting more severe infections or complications from COVID-19 illness.
These high risk groups include anyone over the age of 60, as well as those who have a severe underlying chronic condition (i.e., heart disease, lung disease, or diabetes) or anyone who is immune compromised due to disease or a medication. In addition, it’s prudent to avoid hospitals or nursing homes unless you are there to receive medical care. If you have any questions, please ask your health care provider whether you are in a higher risk group.
In short, let’s come together in battling the spread of disease by staying apart more than usual. In other words: Stay home, save lives. If you’re spreading anything … have it be help, compassion, and humor.