Everywhere you look, restaurants are shutting down. Or reducing their capacity. Bars are closing.
Schools have closed, with parents encouraged to homeschool their kids. Gyms have discontinued their services or are nearly empty.
Businesses are telling people to work from home. Animal hospitals are having pet owners wait outside, with staffers coming out to take animals inside.
Americans have been told to avoid groups of more than 10. And they’ve been advised not to travel unnecessarily. College and professional sports have been put on hold.
People in the Bay Area of California have been told to shelter in place. Same with those in the Chicago suburb of Oak Park.
Is a Recession Coming?
How long will this go on? According to President Donald Trump, this type of social distancing may be required for six months. Or more.
The government believes social distancing is the only thing with a chance to keep the coronavirus from spreading in America. Even more than it already has.
They say that without social distancing, the coronavirus would overwhelm healthcare facilities and workers with patients.
But with social distancing comes a high cost. Individuals and businesses are already feeling it. Trump has said a recession could be the result.
‘Tight Controls’ Needed
Marc Lipsitch is an expert on infectious disease modeling at Harvard University. His outlook on the situation is grim.
“In order to keep from overwhelming the healthcare system with severe cases, we are going to have to have very tight controls in place on transmission through social distancing,” he said.
“And those controls are going to be so tight that they will be economically and socially very damaging.
“There’s no really good option that doesn’t involve at least one of those two problems. And in fact, both could happen if we aren’t very careful about how we manage things.”
Helping Hospitals and Labs
Dr. Deborah Birx is the coronavirus response coordinator for the White House Coronavirus Task Force.
She said a computer model made by a group at Imperial College London is helping establish guidelines.
“What had the biggest impact in the model is social distancing. Small groups, not going in public in large groups.” She added that health officials “really want people to be separated right now.”
The model, as well as others, calls for social distancing now. And for the foreseeable future. In the meantime, social distancing is buying time for hospitals to increase capacity. And for labs to increase diagnostic testing.
Trump Administration Guidelines
Trump’s recent suggestion of limiting group outings to 10 or fewer people followed a previous guideline. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had put the number at 50.
“We’ve made the decision to further toughen the guidelines and blunt the infection now,” Trump said. “We’d much rather be ahead of the curve than behind it.”
Here are additional guidelines from the Trump Administration:
- If someone in your house has tested positive, keep the entire household at home. Do not go to work or school.
- If you are elderly, stay home and away from other people.
- If you have a serious underlying health condition, stay home and away from others.
- Avoid discretionary travel, shopping trips and social visits.
- Avoid eating or drinking in restaurants, bars and food courts. Use drive-through, pickup and delivery options.
- Do not visit nursing homes. Or retirement or long-term care facilities. Except to provide critical assistance.
- Practice good hygiene, such as washing your hands. Especially after touching frequently used items or surfaces. Avoid touching your face.
Trump said, “If everyone makes these critical changes and sacrifices now, we will rally together as one nation. And we will defeat the virus.”
Practicing Social Distancing
Among realistic ways to practice social distancing are avoiding shaking hands. As well as hugs and kisses.
Avoid crowded areas in a room. Better to be a wallflower than in the middle of a pack of people.
Stay out of places where people congregate. Such as theaters and laundromats. And only go to grocery stores during off-hours.
Stay at home as much as possible. This is easier for introverts than extroverts. But we do what we have to do.
Staying Connected in Trying Times
So, if you’re practicing social distancing, how do you stay connected with family and friends?
As long as the Internet and phones are working, we should strive to keep in touch with others as much as possible.
Emails, texts, phone calls and video chats are great ways to communicate. And to make sure others know you are thinking about them.
Share your concerns about the situation with them. But also share memories of better times. That will help lift spirits.
Be generous. Maybe you’re in a position to share some of your stockpile with a needy neighbor. Or offer a ride to an elderly person who’s headed to a doctor’s appointment.
And don’t forget to keep your phones charged. All the best intentions to stay in touch with those you care about will go down the drain if your phone is dead.