Social Distancing: How to Stay Safe During Quarantine
May 14, 2020
Roughly two months ago the U.S. found itself thrust into a new way of life that involved “Social distancing.” This new term is a preventative method meant to “flatten the curve” of coronavirus cases intended to relieve pressures on the medical system, currently overburdened with the amount of critically sick patients needing attendance. Some healthcare systems, such as Italy’s, have begun rationing healthcare to those who are most at risk, namely older people. Social distancing is how you can help slow this pandemic and relieve the pressures on the healthcare system.
The Center for Disease Control, also known as the CDC, has created a set of guidelines to follow during this uncertain period of time. They work to maintain public safety and flatten the curve as much as possible.
Remaining safe at home is the most important thing that anyone can do during this trying time. Taking the necessary precautions, such as wearing a mask and staying at least six feet from others in public, are extremely crucial to help relieve pressures from the healthcare system. However, there are some common misconceptions about tactics to fight the virus which can actually be harmful. Some of these things include wearing multiple masks, taking antibiotics, and smoking.
According to the National Library of Medicine, wearing more than one mask has little to no benefit over wearing a single mask. This practice is harmful especially if using medical-grade masks as it is taking resources away from those who may need it for no good reason. Because COVID-19 is a virus and has antibiotic resistance, antibiotics will not help to fight it. This means that if you are taking antibiotics for the purpose of treating the coronavirus, you are actually harming your immune system as it is harmful to take antibiotics when you do not need them.
Lea Tabenkin, a nurse at Hamilton Wenham Regional High School, when asked questions about social distancing, said that when going out in public, wearing masks/gloves is vital, and keep a safe distance. “The new guideline is to wear masks or face coverings when you go out in public where social distancing may be challenged. If you do not wear gloves, keep your hands off your face. Remain 6 feet apart from people and do not have long conversations. If you need to talk to someone, be brief. COVID-19 primarily spreads through respiratory droplets.” Tabenkin called social distancing “vital,” as people who contract the virus don’t always show symptoms, and the virus can easily be spread to others.
Tabenkin stressed the importance of physical activity as well as maintaining physical health are vital during this time. “It is important to get outside. Do yard work, or set up a bootcamp in your own yard. Go for walks with your family, but stay at least six feet apart from anyone not in your immediate family.” While it might be appealing to lay in bed and watch TV all day, it’s good to mix up activities, including physical aspects as well, as it is very important to stay active. Smoking and vaping is a bad idea, and is particularly worse during the pandemic, as those who smoke/vape are likely to have a worse outcome if they contract the virus than those who don’t.
Lastly, Tabenkin noted how important it was to focus on mental health during the quarantine. Staying inside all day doing nothing isn’t beneficial for mental health, so it’s important to do a variety of different activities. “Eat well, sleep (not all day but use the time to sleep longer than normal), exercise (walk, run, workout), learn something new (take up a musical instrument, listen to a podcast, paint, draw, read, learn),” said Tabenkin. School guidance counselors are also available if students need anyone to talk to.
While this time may seem scary and dangerous, it has the potential to get better as long as everyone continues to follow the CDC guidelines. The curve can be flattened as long as people are responsible and mature. As we social distance, there are still plenty of things to do, and plenty of things to try while staying safe.