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Why Social Distancing is so Important

Social distancing is the primary strategy used to prevent the spread of the virus that causes COVID-19. As the name suggests, it calls for people to increase the space between one another and to avoid gatherings and crowds. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says people should maintain a distance of six feet from others when possible.
 
New York State has ordered all non-essential businesses to close or implement work-from-home policies indefinitely to help people better obey social distancing guidelines. But how does staying home and self-quarantining help reduce the spread of the new coronavirus?
 
Basic Reproduction Number (“R naught”)
 
The goal of social distancing is to reduce the basic reproduction number, known as the “R naught”. The R naught represents the average number of people who can be infected by one person, and it can increase and decrease depending on the rate of spread.
 
For instance, the R naught of the 2009 strain of influenza (H1N1) that killed more than 18,000 people was between 1.4 and 1.6—meaning for every one person infected with H1N1, at least 1.4 more people became infected.
 
The R naught of COVID-19 is between 1.5 and 3.5. This means that for every one person infected with COVID-19, there will be as many as 3.5 more positive cases. An R naught of 3.5 can have a fatal impact on a population as large as the United States.
 
What does flatten the curve mean?
 
Slowing the rate of the coronavirus spread will reduce the burden on healthcare systems. This is called “flattening the curve.”
The number of confirmed cases in the United States is growing at a faster rate than our healthcare system can manage. By overburdening our hospitals and healthcare facilities, we could be faced with a grim picture. 
 
But if social distancing is effective and we flatten the curve, we’ll give our healthcare system and healthcare workers the chance to do their jobs and keep up with the number of patients who need treatment or hospitalization.
 
Healthcare workers ask you to stay home
 
Healthcare workers are on the front lines of the coronavirus pandemic. Thousands of social media posts from healthcare workers and their families have been shared online asking people to stay home so healthcare workers get a fair chance of dealing with the pandemic.
 
How to practice social distancing
 
Staying at home is the most effective way to practice social distancing. Here are a few more ways you can prevent the spread of the coronavirus:
 
  •    Stay six feet away from other people
  •   Frequently wash your hands for 20 seconds with soap and water
  •   No handshakes
  •    No hugs
 
How to support your community during social distancing
 
Here are some ways you can stay connected or keep busy during social distancing:
 
  •           Video call with friends and family
  •           Watch movies and TV shows
  •           Read a book
  •           Do housework
  •           Organize
  •           Go for a walk / run / bike ride
  •           Create new food recipes
  •           Paint
  •           Write reviews of local businesses
  •           Yoga
  •           Exercise
  •           Teach your pet new tricks
 

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