What Is Social Distancing, and Why Is It Important?
By now, you've heard of COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus that has induced a global pandemic, likely causing your schools, gyms and neighborhood hangouts to shut down.
While there's lots of misinformation out there, it's important to look at the facts provided by our government and national healthcare institutions. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has issued guidelines for "community mitigation strategies" to help limit the spread of COVID-19. These strategies include "social distancing."
So, what exactly is social distancing? The gist is, it's a conscious effort by the entire country to reduce close contact between people and hopefully slow down the transmission of the virus. This means reducing your interactions with other people outside of your home, and keeping your exposure to other people as low as possible.
It might sound like fun and games that school is closed—and we get it, who doesn't like a few extra days off?—but this isn't like a snow day, this is wildly serious. The U.S. has already banned gatherings of 250+ people or more, and huge hubs like Disneyland, SXSW, Coachella and Broadway have either been temporarily closed or postponed. The President of the United States also issued a National Emergency, preparing cities and hospitals for the potential influx of patients.
If this stresses you out, you're not alone–but don't spend your time panicking, because there are ways to keep yourself safe. This isn't the time to go hang out with your friends. The whole point of school being cancelled is to keep everyone away from each other, which sounds lame but is super necessary. Social distancing, albeit boring, is crucial to contain this virus, as is washing your hands frequently, not touching your face, using hand sanitizer if available, and coughing into your elbow.
When washing your hands, sud up your hands with soap for 20 seconds before rinsing (sing Happy Birthday if you have to if you're unsure the length of 20 seconds). And most importantly, don't harp on your parents if they won't let you do things you normally do. Everyone, including your parents, is anxious during these trying times. So sit back, pick a new show to binge-watch, and keep your dang hands clean.
To stay informed, visit the CDC, and if you develop any coronavirus symptoms (fever, cough, shortness of breath and body aches), separate yourself from your family and call your doctor immediately.
For more health-related content, HERE's everything one of our writers wish she knew about healthy eating earlier in life.