Opinion: Social Distancing puts others before yourself

Cabin fever sets in quickly when there is nothing to do. Running out of Netflix shows, I decided to take a walk in the sunshine that only just broke the storm clouds. Walking down the street, I saw a couple walking toward me. We looked at each other, unsure of how to handle this usually mundane situation in the new COVID-19-filled world. After a few moments’ hesitation, the couple took to walking in the middle of the road, and we gave each other a wide berth to fulfil the “social distancing” request.

In this case, social distancing was easy, but other times, it’s not. Grocery stores and hospitals are two places where social distancing is most difficult to achieve. But is it really that important? I mean, if an infected person touches something before a healthy one, that completely negates the reason for social distancing, right?

Wrong. Social distancing is about more than keeping yourself healthy; it’s about the wellbeing of others.

The New York Times reports that social distancing means to keep space between you and the people around you. The minimum recommended distance is six feet.

These six feet aren’t just to protect you from other people, they are also to potentially protect other people from you.

Studies on COVID-19 have shown that some people carry the virus without  displaying symptoms. MedicalNewsToday wrote that a study found that out of 450 case reports in 93 Chinese cities, around 10%of the cases were caused by someone who had yet to develop symptoms of the virus.

The World Economic Forum cited a study that found that around 37,400 people infected with COVID-19 in Wuhan, China showed only mild or no symptoms but were still contagious. The study found that at least 59% of the cases in Wuhan came from unknown sources.

Conclusion: the infection doesn’t necessarily show in every person and some people may be carriers and have no idea.

Statistica posted a chart from Gary Warshaw at the Signer Laboratory that shows that the one person with normal social behavior — in other words, someone not practicing social distancing — may be able to infect as many as 406 people in 30 days, either directly or as a chain reaction. However, when that one person comes in contact with 75% less people, they may only infect two or three people in 30 days.

The main idea to remember is that the CDC states groups such as older adults (65 and older), pregnant women, people with HIV, people with asthma or people with other serious underlying health conditions are at a higher risk of serious complications from COVID-19.

Precautions are in place for a reason, and in this time of uncertainty, we can’t just think of ourselves. Even if a specific person is at a lower risk than others, that does not mean they are immune to potentially catching and spreading the virus. It’s time for us to take responsibility for our actions and act in love, even if the only way to show that love is from afar.

Sobonsky is a opinion writer. Follow her on Twitter.

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