What is Social Distancing?

In the wake of the coronavirus (COVID-19), public health departments across the country are asking people to practice “social distancing,” but what is it exactly? Social distancing is a term being used by public health officials; the goal of “social distancing” is to slow down the spread of the coronavirus, though social distancing can apply to any highly contagious disease.

Since the spread of COVID-19 is having a major impact on our health, our communities, the economy, and the real estate market, it’s critical that we all do what we can to incorporate social distancing measures into our daily lives. What counts as a social distancing measure? It refers to different steps that restrict how and where people gather together to restrict the spread of an infectious disease, which in this case is COVID-19.

Examples of social distancing include but are not limited to:

  • Closing movie theatres
  • Closing schools
  • Closing shopping malls
  • Closing bars and restaurants
  • Canceling concerts, festivals, and other events
  • Canceling worship services
  • Closing buildings where people gather

Before COVID-19, when people would hear the term “social distancing,” they’d often think about it being a measure to slow down the spread of pandemic influenza. Interestingly, when health experts studied the 1957-1958 pandemic, they found that the disease spread following large public gatherings, such as festivals and conferences. As a result of this research, health experts concluded that one of the most important ways to slow down pandemic influenza was to encourage people to avoid crowds.

Slowing Down a Pandemic

Once a pandemic starts, it can’t be stopped, but it can be slowed down by practicing social distancing measures. Some of the best ways a community can slow the spread of a pandemic is to shut down schools, have employees work from home, cancel business meetings, cancel events and parties, shut down bars and nightclubs, close all childcare centers, suspend church services, and cancel all indoor and outdoor events that attract large crowds.

What can YOU do? During a pandemic, it’s critical to go online and stay up-to-date about any social distancing measures being directed by your local public health department. Stay informed, plan ahead, and most of all, stay healthy!