In the almost nonstop news about the coronavirus pandemic, the phrase “social distancing” has been endlessly repeated.
Kathy Moffett, WVU School of Medicine’s Pediatric Infectious Diseases section chief, talked to The Dominion Post about what it means and why it’s important.
“We just all need to do our part,” she said. “And it will not last forever. I’m not sure how but I think it needs to be conveyed about the importance of social distancing.”
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention defines social distancing as avoiding large crowds — sporting events, big gatherings, packed shopping centers. And stay 6 feet apart while conversing; that’s about how far the virus can travel and land on a new host.
Social distancing is essentially one means to minimize the spread of COVID-19.
Seriously consider not running up to Pittsburgh to go to the mall, or going to DC or to Columbus to visit family, Moffett said. Don’t ravel for spring break. If you need to shop, avoid the busy hours.
WVU students who will be taking classes online may find the experience somewhat cold and sterile.
But all those measures will help prevent the spread, she said.
“It’s a social responsibility just like vaccinating. We’re doing it not just for ourselves but for others. … We’re all going to be in our communities for a while. We have to accept that.”
People may even want to consider not going to church, she said. At church, people sit in close quarters, touch each other, perhaps share a communion cup. (As we reported Saturday, Bishop Mark Brennan of the Wheeling-Charleston Catholic Diocese suspended Mass for those reasons.)
Some won’t be going out at all, Moffett said. The elderly are particularly vulnerable to coronavirus. Families may want ot consider doing their shopping for them. We don’t know the effects on babies and pregnant moms, so it may be best to shield them.
Kids, who rarely show the symptoms of coronavirus, and asymptomatic adults may balk at the restrictions, Moffett said, but they may be incubators and carriers and expose someone who is at risk.
Parents will face a challenge keeping their kids occupied while the pandemic plays out, she said. They’ll have to make judgment calls. Is it OK to take them to a friend’s house to be with another kid or two? Probably yes. Is it OK to take them to the rec center to play games with 25 or 50 or 100 other kids? Probably not.
“We really should be distancing ourselves so we’re not spreading infections,” she said. “We’ll have future spring breaks. We’ll have future trips. This is not going to be
forever. … Stay calm and understand what’s happening.”