Most of us know by now that there are many different ways we can protect ourselves from COVID-19: hand washing, coughing into our elbows, keeping our hands away from our faces, self-isolating if we feel sick, and of course social distancing. You might have heard that social distancing means "staying 6 feet apart" from other people, but is that really all there is to it? A patient health navigator such as Rightway is just one example of technology you can use at this time. Let's talk more in-depth about social distancing so that you better protect yourself and your family.
Defining Social Distancing
Social distancing means purposefully reducing close contact with others. The CDCs definition consists of these 3 points:
- Remaining out of "congregate settings" as much as possible
- Not joining mass gatherings
- Keeping a distance of at least 6 feet from other people whenever possible
The Importance of Social Distancing
Social distancing is a habit that is essential for preventing the spread of COVID-10. This form of coronavirus can spread through close proximity, as well as coughing and sneezing. So, by reducing our proximity with others, we reduce the chances of spreading the virus to others or catching it ourselves.
Who Must Do Social Distancing?
We all should implement social distancing, but it's especially crucial for the older population or those who have underlying health conditions that could put them at greater risk of experiencing complications from the virus.
Should I Be Doing Social Distancing Already?
The best time to start is before COVID-19 gains a foothold in your community. Each community is different, so be sure to adhere to the rules for your specific community.
How to Social Distance at the Workplace
Try to stay 6 feet apart from your coworkers as much as possible. It's also crucial to follow other simple hygiene habits like washing your hands thoroughly, not touching your face, and to cough into your elbow instead of in your hands (or worse, in the air).
What to Do at the Grocery Store
Keep in mind that in any place with large gatherings, virus transmission is always a risk. So when you go inside of a grocery store, remember to try and keep 6 feet away from others at all times, and avoid touching your face. A good tip is to avoid going to the store at times when it's busier.
Should I Still Eat Out?
Concerning going out in public to restaurants or bars, always follow your local ordinances. With that being said, dining out is usually considered a nonessential activity, which means that it should be avoided from here on out. All nonessential activities, in general, should be avoided during a pandemic. That's because viruses can easily spread in public places. Also, keep in mind that many restaurants will be offering a take-out option only, so you can still get your favorite foods without putting yourself at too much risk. However, remember to observe the hygiene standards of the staff in the restaurant if possible (for example, see if they are all wearing face masks).
Meetings With Elderly People
Since elderly people are at the greatest risk of experiencing complications from COVID-19, you'll be doing them a favor by not visiting them like you used to. They should not feel slighted at all by this. You can still keep in touch with them through other means such as social media, phone, or video calling.
How Can I Social Distance From Other Members of My Household?
Social distancing is mainly focused on larger groups, and since it's almost impossible to social distance from people in your household, you don't need to worry as much. However, if someone in your home is sick, then you should endeavor to reduce close contact with them as much as possible. If you aren't already, it's always a good idea to avoid sharing anything, including eating utensils, water bottles, plates, etc.
What About Important Events Like Birthday Parties and Weddings?
We know that these are important events in life. However, what's more important - experiencing these events or protecting the ones we love? This is even more important to consider when many of the celebrants could be more vulnerable to COVID-19. Therefore you should strongly consider postponing or canceling any of these events.
How Can I Go on Like This Without In-Person Interaction?
This is a hard question that many of us are grappling with. Thankfully there are virtual options for connecting with others: email, text messaging, and video calls are the main ones. Connecting with others in any way you can is still important for your emotional health. The World Health Organization (WHO) has tried to rebrand social distancing as "physical distancing," because it's all about keeping a distance from others physically, and not socially!
If I'm Feeling Sick, Can I Go Outside?
Getting fresh air is healthy for everyone, and going outside in your yard may be safe. However, going into public places with symptoms means that you will be putting other people's lives at risk. You should at least make sure that you're wearing a face mask, because that may prevent you from spreading germ particles through the air and onto others.
Should I Wear a Face Mask in Public?
The main benefit of wearing a face mask is to prevent yourself from spreading the virus to others. Theoretically, if everyone is wearing a face mask, then person to person transmission of the virus should be greatly reduced. So think about the effort of wearing a face mask as a collective effort to ensure that everyone stays protected. Seeing everyone wear a mask should be a comforting sight, not an alarming one. During this pandemic, you should be more concerned if you see a lot of people around you not wearing face masks.
Can I Have Any Visitors While in Self-Quarantine?
If you're feeling sick or are confirmed to have COVID-19, then you should not be receiving any visitors. By taking self-quarantine seriously, you'll be protecting your friends, family, and community. Someone who is going into your home while you're sick is at the greatest risk of getting the virus. Your personal space, after all, is full of your germs (aka a "germ factory"), which is why you should not be inviting in visitors at this time.