I don’t think I’d ever heard the term “social distancing” prior to two weeks ago. Now, it is a term I feel I hear every hour; on every greeting and every salutation, at the end of every conversation, and in every news article that I read, which are a lot of news articles.
The CDC defines social distancing as it applies to COVID-19 as “remaining out of congregrate settings, avoiding mass gatherings, and maintaining distance (approximately 6 feet or 2 meters) from others when possible.”
This includes no handshakes or hugging.
Also, it is very important to wash your hands thoroughly (20-30 seconds) anytime you enter from outdoors, before you eat, and before you spend time with anyone who may be more vulnerable to the effects of COVID-19, including older adults and those with serious chronic medical conditions.
In a brief exchange I had with a Chicago Police Department officer yesterday, he mentioned to please share the importance and gravity of people staying home and practicing social distancing in all honest efforts to “flatten the curve.”
So what does it mean to flatten the curve?
LiveScience.com wrote an excellent article on March 16, 2020, Coronavirus: What is ‘flattening the curve,’ and will it work? I encourage you to read it, but to recount the highlights:
The “curve” researchers are talking about refers to the projected number of people who will contract COVID-19 over a period of time. (To be clear, this is not a hard prediction of how many people will definitely be infected, but a theoretical number that’s used to model the virus’ spread.)
As I mentioned previously in the blog posting Let Science and Doctors Lead the Way there are a wealth of resources you can turn to for specific numbers in relation to COVID-19, both nationally and in the city of Chicago.
This is a popular graph of what “the curve” looks like:
And to quote WWLP,
Flattening the curve works in two ways:
It reduces the number of ongoing cases at any point during the pandemic
More importantly, it reduces the number of cases during the peak of the pandemic, which lessens the burden on hospitals when they need it most.
Flattening the curve is essentially society coming together to slow the coronavirus’ spread. Closing schools, social distancing, not going to the grocery store unless you need something rather than want something, are ways that people can help flatten the curve.
This is why we are currently living under a stay-at-home order for all non-essential travel and personnel.
So, please let me reaffirm the need for you to practice social distancing, to stay at home as much as possible while we all work to “flatten the curve” on this pandemic.
Additionally, one of my favorite journalists, Kelly Bauer, and her colleague Mina Bloom did an excellent article on the rules surrounding a stay at home order.
Here are the rules for heading outside during a pandemic according to city officials:
Go for a short walk or run, but maintain physical distance from others while doing so, preferably in your own neighborhood.
Walk your dog, but do not congregate at the dog park or beach.
Shop at grocery stores that remain open — unless you are sick — and practice social distancing.
Continue visiting the restaurants that remain open for pickup and delivery.
Just stay home as much as possible no matter what.
I encourage you to read this article in its entirety as well.
These are uncertain times, but we can all do our best to not only ensure our own personal safety, but the safety of those around us and those we care about and love.