March 26, 2020 Social Distancing Saves Lives
The question often gets asked – why should I practice social distancing?
After all, I’ve heard it said in interviews and other interactions: “my risk factors for contracting the coronavirus (COVID-19) are low and the vast majority of people who get the virus are unlikely to get very sick.”
But the answer to the question is not an overstatement:
Practicing social distance saves lives.
That bears repeating: It saves lives.
Whether you are likely to get sick, or ever show symptoms, anyone can contract the virus. And if you contract it, you can spread very easily what is a highly transmissible illness. It is critical that we all take the advice of the Governor and federal health officials with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to practice social distancing.
It is the single most effective tool we have to prevent the contraction and spread of the virus.
With that, here is what I hope are some timely reminders and background regarding social distancing:
- What is social distancing?
- Social distancing is the practice of avoiding large crowds or, if you have to be around others, keeping a distance of at least six feet.
- What does social distancing do?
- It helps to slow the spread of an outbreak and is currently recommended for people of all ages.
- How does it slow the spread of the virus?
- COVID-19 is spread through person-to-person contact and the respiratory droplets produced when a person coughs or sneezes. If you put space between yourself and others, you are less likely to become infected or spread it yourself.
- What should I be doing?
- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is constantly updating its guidance on social distancing. To be sure you are getting up-to-date information, you should continuously check their website:www.cdc.gov . It is also important to stay in tune with the precautions your federal, state and local governments are taking to keep you safe. Visit KYCOVID19.KY.GOV for more information.
- How is social distancing different from self-quarantine or self-isolation?
- Social distancing is maintaining a safe distance from others. Self-quarantining keeps someone who doesn’t have symptoms but was exposed to the virus away from others, so they don’t unknowingly infect anyone else. Health experts recommend that self-quarantine last 14 days. This provides enough time for them to know whether or not they will become ill and be contagious to other people.
- Self-isolation keeps people who are confirmed to have COVID-19 away from those who are not infected. Self-isolation takes place in one’s home but can also take place at a hospital or care facility.
I know it is a sacrifice right now to limit our social interactions. But prevention now – through appropriate social distancing measures – is the best tool we have to ensure the health, safety and well-being of everyone in our community and all of our loved ones. Please, for yourselves and all those you interact with and love, practice social distancing and save lives!
Dr. Mark Newman
Executive Vice President for Health Affairs
University of Kentucky