Social distancing: A crucial step to slow the spread of COVID-19

With the looming threat of the virus, people are responsible for protecting others

By Amber Birrell and Christine Kim

As the novel COVID-19 continues to spread, social distancing becomes a necessity in most, if not all, communities around the world.  In an attempt to minimize the escalation of the pandemic, it is essential we all participate in social distancing.

Most public places, where close contact with others is likely to happen, are closed. Many events and gatherings have been cancelled, and the majority of schools nationwide have moved online. For necessary trips, such as grocery shopping, the Centers for Disease and Prevention recommends everyone stay at least six feet apart from others. 

Illustration by Christine Kim
Staying 6 feet apart from people who you are not quarantining with is an important step to slow down the spread of the virus.

“Every single generation has a role to play,” Dr. Deborah Birx, a member of the White House coronavirus task force, said. “We’re asking our older generation to stay in their homes. We’re asking the younger generations to stop going out in public places, to bars and restaurants, and spreading asymptomatic virus onto countertops and knobs.”

While many people are following the rules of social distancing, there are still some who are not. The coronavirus spreads from person to person through respiratory droplets in the air, so limiting contact is essential to slow the spread of the virus.

“Researchers maintain that social distancing is the most effective measure of containing the spread of the new coronavirus,” Maria Cohut from Medical News Today said. “Every person who limits their social contact can become a broken link in the chain of contagion.”

Some may believe that because they are young and at a lower risk for the disease, it is OK to ignore social distancing orders and continue to meet up with friends and family.

This is false; it is important to not only think of yourself in this time but be mindful of others who are at a higher risk for the disease. By refusing to follow state orders to practice social distancing, you are possibly spreading the virus asymptomatically, thus contributing to the total number of people infected.

“Even those who become only mildly ill — and maybe even those who never even know they are infected — can propel the exponential movement of the virus through the population,” Apoorva Mandavilli wrote in a New York Times editorial.

Federal, state and local governments are taking necessary measures to help slow the rapid spread of the virus. Social distancing may seem like an inconvenience, and calling friends over could be tempting, but we are all responsible for protecting those at a higher risk.