By Nabila Hersi
Why are businesses, restaurants, and bars closing around the country, and why are entire nations shutting down? To facilitate social distancing. Social distancing is the public health practice of encouraging people to keep their physical distance from each other—often six feet to ten feet—during disease outbreaks to slow the spread of infection. This practice reduces the spread of COVID-19, lessening its impact on society and especially on the medical care system. Countries like Italy and South Korea have adopted social distancing to “flatten the curve,” observing fewer cases of COVID-19 and hospital patients.
What is “flattening the curve”? According to John Hopkins University, “flattening the curve” means using protective practices to slow the rate of COVID-19 to free up hospital beds, supplies, and letting doctors care for patients in desperate need of their care. If a large number of people were to become sick over a course of a few days, they would overwhelm an already understaffed hospital system.
This can be a confusing and conflicting time, but taking the necessary steps to ensure personal safety and that of others saves countless lives. States such as California, New York, New Jersey, and Washington have already implemented statewide closures for restaurants, certain businesses, and bars. Companies have also begun closing their businesses to have people stay home and or work from home. These actions are necessary in helping lessen the number of cases nationwide.
Oregon’s number of cases is at 65. COVID-19 is now present in all 50 states and the death toll in the United States is above 100. The total number of confirmed cases has surged to over 5,500. CNN reports that the worldwide death toll has topped 6,500. Health officials such as those from the United States’ the Center for Disease Control (CDC) have advised businesses to stay closed for eight weeks and that events with over fifty people be canceled. Even President Trump’s tone has become somber, and he advises that gatherings be limited to ten people.
The COVID-19 pandemic is making everyone aware of the importance of handwashing and covering coughs and sneezes. Along with those necessary steps, social distancing and self-quarantine can slow the rate of infections. The pandemic can be overwhelming and an adjustment to day-to-day life, but every person plays a part. A small change can have the biggest impact on someone else’s health and well-being.
Photo from Flickr. A shop window encourages handwashing.