A lot can be said about the new hot topic of social distancing. It has developed into a massive topic with so many smaller ones smashed in (and the punch line of so many jokes). After weeks of hearing about it, it has started feeling like just a list of things we aren’t supposed to do. And, no one likes being told what to do.
So instead of listing everything you can’t do, let’s start with the basic concept. That way you can understand why everything is “banned.” Plus, sometimes hard things are easier to do if we know the why.
But of course, we are going to start with a very basic definition.
Social distancing is the idea of intentionally increasing the space between people to prevent the spread of a disease.
Interestingly, each disease has an actual social distance associated with it. For the coronavirus, that distance is 6 feet. (Which is the same as 1.8 meters, 2 yards, 2 big steps, or 2 arm lengths—but don’t touch!)
Why 6 feet? It all has to do with liquid droplets.
A droplet is small particle of water, mucus, or saliva, like a raindrop but a lot smaller. And, droplets that contain the coronavirus can travel through the air up to 6 feet. It's kind of like a paper airplane that only travels 6 feet. If one of those droplets lands on you and makes it way inside your body (like through your eyes, nose, or mouth), you can become infected.
A droplet could land on your hand, and then you touch your mouth. Or, maybe it goes straight into your mouth (kind of gross to think about, but possible).
So how does it end up in the air?
Someone who is actively infected has to create the droplet. Usually droplets form during a cough or sneeze. Typically, the sicker someone is, the more they do those things, right? So, a person with symptoms from the virus is more likely to spread it.
However, that’s not the only case. You can have minor symptoms or none at all and still unknowingly spread the coronavirus.
But if you keep your distance—6 ft to be exact—you don’t have to worry about contracting it through the air.
Easiest way to keep your distance, don’t go places with limited space and a lot of people. Places like restaurants, conferences, sporting events, gyms, movie theaters, and… you get the idea. Makes sense why all these events have been cancelled, right? If one person coughs with 12 people within 6 feet, all 12 people are likely to get the coronavirus and then spread it to more people, and so on.
Beware, this isn’t the only way coronavirus is spread, but it may be the primary way for the coronavirus. Don't worry, in an upcoming post, we will be talking about the other way: surface contact.