You’re bummed that you can’t attend that concert or eat at your favorite restaurant, and staying at home all day is already getting boring. Though you may be tempted to head out to some of your favorite hangouts, consider that you could be putting others in danger by potentially spreading the coronavirus (COVID-19).
What is social distancing?
Social distancing is a change in behaviors that can help stop the spread of infections. Basically, it’s the effort to reduce your rate of contact with other people or the public unless absolutely necessary.
Some examples of social distancing include:
- Working from home instead of heading into the office
- Visiting loved ones via Skype, FaceTime or other methods instead of in-person
- Holding online classes instead of attending school in person
- Canceling large meetings or conferences
- Canceling or postponing sporting events, concerts and other large events
- Closing or avoiding restaurants, bars and any other non-essential public places
Social distancing is very important for slowing or stopping the spread of infections, especially for those who are at higher risk of catching coronavirus. High-risk people include the elderly and those with compromised immune systems or other underlying health problems. By distancing themselves from the public, these high-risk individuals are able to protect themselves from being exposed to the virus, which can be deadly for them.
Even if you’re not considered at higher-risk of catching coronavirus, it’s still very important to practice social distancing. By distancing yourself from others, especially those in high-risk categories, you’re doing your part by minimizing the likelihood of spreading the virus to others.
Remember that often, those with coronavirus can be asymptotic – showing no symptoms. So, even if you are feeling fine and are not experiencing any of the symptoms of coronavirus, you could still be a carrier of COVID-19 and be a potential threat to others.
How is self-quarantining different from social distancing?
If you’ve been exposed to coronavirus, it’s essential that you self-quarantine, or remove yourself from the public and others as much as you can. Some ways you can do this include:
- Don’t share things like towels or utensils with anyone, including family members
- Stay at home and don’t venture out unless absolutely necessary
- Don’t have any visitors
- Stay at least six feet away from others
- Wash your hands frequently and practice good hygiene
- Make sure to disinfect and clean all surfaces in your house often and well
How you can help flatten the curve
Flattening the curve is a reference to how protective measures like social distancing and self-quarantine can slow the rate of a virus. It’s important to do our best to flatten the curve, because too many people getting sick at the same time can overwhelm hospitals and healthcare facilities.
When you practice good social distancing techniques or self-quarantine, you’re doing your part to help protect the health of the community.
Remember if you’re exposed to COVID-19, it’s important that you isolate or quarantine yourself from others for at least two weeks to ensure that you are preventing the spread of the virus. If you’re feeling especially ill and are having severe symptoms of coronavirus, including a high fever, cough or trouble breathing, please call your primary care physician or any urgent care facility.
University Health System is dedicated to providing the best, most comprehensive care for patients in South Texas and beyond. For more information about coronavirus, visit universityhealthsystem.com/COVID19.