Preventing spread of COVID-19 with social distancing

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With rapidly increasing rates of COVID-19 cases around the world, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that keeping a “social distance” is the most effective way to slow the spread of infection. Social distancing is defined as keeping a six-foot distance from others and staying home in small groups of six people or fewer.  

Following the closure of many schools around the state, Governor Gavin Newsom issued a stay at home order that encourages citizens to stay home, limiting the likelihood of people contracting the virus from others and contaminated surfaces. The order mandated the temporary closure of all “non-essential” businesses; for instance, many offices or other workplaces and community-based infrastructures are off-limits to the public in order to promote social distancing. Citizens are advised to leave the house only if necessary, such as for grocery shopping or exercising. 

Social distancing is essential to “flatten the curve,” which refers to slowing the rate of COVID-19 infection to keep treatment resources available. The idea is this: many infections will occur, but they do not all have to happen at one time. Having fewer people infected will allow more ill people to receive treatment. In other words, as the rate of infection slows, not only will fewer patients at a time need care, but hospitals will have doctors, supplies, and rooms to treat patients who do. According to the CDC, collective action to social distance is the most effective way to flatten the curve.

Tips for social distancing from the CDC include having groceries and necessities delivered, covering the face when going outside, and avoiding gatherings of people. Simply spending time with people outside of the home, like friends or other relatives, still puts the participating parties at risk, regardless of how small the gathering is. Gatherings of people who do not live together are counterproductive and can be dangerous.

In sum, citizens should continue to practice social distancing in order to contain the spread of COVID-19, which will eventually lead to a more normal lifestyle. 

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