Confused About ‘Social Distancing’ During COVID-19? Here’s What Families Should Do.


If coronavirus hasn’t already affected your town with school closures or event cancellations then it’s coming very soon. Along with all of the disruptions to our daily lives is a phrase being thrown around; social distancing.


We’re supposed to be separating ourselves from others as much as possible in order to flatten the curve of infections and help make this outbreak hurry up and be over with. 

But what is social distancing and what does it mean for you and your family?

Are playdates or visiting friends and family ok?

Not really. Some experts are advising that families with older relatives or those with health conditions particularly those that affect the lungs be as protected as possible, which means self-imposed quarantines.

The problem with small gatherings is that even if someone isn’t showing symptoms of being sick that doesn’t mean the virus isn’t spread around.

Some people are “super spreaders”, which means they carry the virus but show no symptoms. Without adequate testing and with so many unanswered questions about how Covid-19 spreads, things like playdates and visiting with friends seems a bit too risky right now.

My local gym hasn’t closed, am I safe to go?

Look, going out is risky for everyone right now. There is no sugarcoating this fact. But if your local gym is still open and you really feel like you gotta get in that workout then experts advise that you follow a few basic protocols.

  1. Wash your hands before and after you use the equipment.
  2. Disinfect equipment before and after you use it.
  3. Stay at least six feet away from others.

It is important to remember that coronavirus is now thought to be able to stay in the air for up to three hours, can survive on plastic surfaces for up to a week and can live on metal and fabric for at least three days. 

What about going to the grocery store?

If you can get your groceries delivered or order ahead and pick them up where you live then those are the safest bets. But if your local stores don’t offer delivery or pick up then try changing how you shop.

Go early in the morning or late at night during off-hours when you’re least likely to be surrounded by crowds of people. Disinfect the cart handlebar or the basket handles before you use it.

If you can’t get access to disinfectant (it is in high demand and hard to find) then wear gloves. 

BUT ABOUT WEARING GLOVES: Please do not try to use medical-grade gloves, that just isn’t necessary and using medical supplies right now is taking away from nurses and doctors who are providing a front line defense. You can wear your winter gloves but be sure to toss them in the wash when you get home. 

Even at the grocery store, practice social distancing by staying six feet away from those around you. If you can, use the self-checkout to avoid close contact with cashiers, who are vulnerable to getting sick. 

I have to take a subway to get to work every day, am I safe?

The reality is that for many people, public transportation isn’t a choice. But for those that can afford to take a ride-share service, you might want to consider it.

Even though it puts you in close quarters with other people, you can limit the number of people you are near.

Also, if it is possible to walk places instead of hailing a ride, taking a bus or train, then walk. Not only is the fresh air and exercise great for your health but it keeps you away from crowds, which is the point of social distancing. 

For those who have no choice and must take public transit. Ask your boss if you can find a creative way to work remotely. If that is entirely out of the question then do your best to follow safety protocols.

  1. Wash your hands often and for at least 20 seconds.
  2. Wear gloves or use a cloth when touching surfaces like holding on to a bar or handle for balance.
  3. If you sneeze or cough, do so into the inside of your elbow and not on your hands where you can spread germs. 

Should I cancel things like haircuts or doctor checkups?

Yes. The most prudent thing to do right now in order to practice social distancing is to postpone or cancel all non-essential appointments and plans.

Things like a basic doctor visit when you are not injured or sick can be postponed. Haircuts, nails, other beauty treatments should also be postponed or cancelled.

If you are concerned about how your cancelation affects the income of those hired to assist you, you can try purchasing gift certificates to help keep your local economy going. 

Please also consider canceling visiting nursing homes, retirement homes, and assisted living centers. The fact is, our oldest citizens are the most at risk for the serious complications associated with coronavirus. 

Social distancing does not have to mean sitting in a basement and hiding from the world.

If you must be out in public, then wash your hands, avoid contact, keep at least six feet away from other people, and try to get home as soon as you can. If we all work together we really can slow the spread of this nasty virus.

For more information on coronavirus – without all the hype – check out the Coronavirus Dashboard. You can also view the CDC’s guidelines here


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