School is online, university students are being sent home, everyone is working via zoom, and your new roommates named mom and dad are starting to drive you crazy. This is our new reality during the COVID-19 pandemic. And this new reality has a name: social distancing.
The CDC, or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, defines social distancing as “remaining out of congregate settings, avoiding mass gatherings, and maintaining distance (approximately 6 feet or 2 meters) from others when possible.”
Before we get into what social distancing may look like for you, there are a few other bits of coronavirus “lingo”—if you will— that you need to know to define your situation. Johns Hopkins Medicine defines the following key terms in their article ‘Coronavirus, Social Distancing, and Self-Quarantine:’
Self-quarantine: This is a recommended practice for those who may have been exposed to coronavirus, including those who have recently traveled. To self-quarantine, one should stay home, not have any visitors, wash their hands frequently, avoid shared objects and stay away from other members of the household for a full two weeks. Johns Hopkins Medicine says, “Two weeks provides enough time for them to know whether or not they will become ill and be contagious to other people.”
Isolation: This should be practiced by those who have tested positive for COVID-19. Johns Hopkins Medicine states the following: “Isolation is a health care term that means keeping people who are infected with a contagious illness away from those who are not infected. Isolation can take place at home or at a hospital or care facility. Special personal protective equipment will be used to care for these patients in health care settings.”
Flattening the curve: Johns Hopkins Medicine defines this as “using protective practices to slow the rate of COVID-19 infection, so hospitals have room, supplies, and doctors for all of the patients who need care.”
And what can you do to help flatten the curve? You guessed it—practice social distancing! Ladies and gentlemen, it is time to find out what practicing social distancing is and what it definitely is not.
Activities that most definitely do not qualify as social distancing include the following:
● Going over to a friends’ house because they’re “not sick.”
● Going on a Target run just for fun
● Hosting a girls’ night in at your home with your hometown besties and watching a new Netflix series all together
● Having an in-person study session with your classmates that live nearby
● Inviting over your friend that you haven’t seen since winter break because they’ve been studying abroad all semester
Although we all miss the in-person social interaction, here are some alternatives to your favorite activities that you can do all while practicing social distancing:
● Having a group FaceTime or Zoom with your friends
● Do some online shopping to cure your Target withdrawal, and only go out for essentials like groceries
● Try the Netflix Party Chrome extension to watch the newest Netflix shows with your friends
● Have a study session over Zoom to review for your online classes
● FaceTime, call or text the friends you haven’t seen in a while to ask how they’re doing
As we are all adjusting to our new reality, don’t forget to look out for COVID-19 updates from sources like the CDC and trusted medical professionals, take care of your mental health, and of course, wash your hands.