A few days ago, the Pennsylvania Health Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine used the term “social distancing”. It’s something you’re likely going to hear a lot more in the coming days and weeks as coronavirus fears spread across the country.
In the last two days, Pennsylvania confirmed its first 4 cases of coronavirus: 2 in Montgomery County, 1 in Delaware County, and 1 in Wayne County.
What is Social Distancing?
So, what is social distancing?
Quite simply, it’s avoiding people in almost any way possible.
Pennsylvania health officials are currently urging certain residents to practice social distancing if there’s a chance they could have come in contact with coronavirus.
“While we caution Pennsylvanians to avoid all unnecessary travel to and from countries with a CDC level 3 travel advisory at this time, we understand that it cannot all be avoided,” Levine said. “In that case, we are urging Pennsylvanians to be aware of and follow these guidelines to protect their health and others around them.”
On March 5, Levine identified who those Pennsylvanians are:
- Travelers arriving from China and Iran at any time during the coronavirus outbreak
- And arrivals from Italy and South Korea in the last two weeks (starting March 5)
People who’ve arrived from China and Iran will already be notified that they should stay away from people for a while. Those coming to Pennsylvania from Italy and South Korea are urged to call the state Health Dept. at 1-877-724-3258.
State officials will be urging all these people who may have come in contact with coronavirus to avoid people for 2 weeks. That’s called social distancing.
How to Practice Social Distancing
If you’re told to stay away and self-monitor for signs of coronavirus, health officials urge you to take your temperature at least 2 times per day to watch for fever. Early symptoms of coronavirus also include shortness of breath and a cough.
The first 4 Pennsylvanians to be stricken with coronavirus each experienced “mild symptoms” at the onset. They’ve been told to avoid people for a couple weeks. But that’s easier said than done.
So, how do you avoid people? Here are 5 quick tips from health officials:
Stay at Home
Doesn’t get any simpler than this. If you’re told to avoid people, simply stay in your house. Your coal region neighbors would tell you, “Don’t go nowhere.”
Don’t Go to Work or School
People under self-containment are told to stay away from work and school for 2 weeks. Working from home is an option from a growing number of employers and schools these days so it may not mean that you have to miss work or school entirely.
However, working and not resting if people are feeling even slight symptoms of any virus may not be a best practice.
Use Your Own Transportation – Alone
Leaving your home may be unavoidable in certain situations. If you need to travel, take your own transportation and go alone. Don’t use public transportation or any ride-share services like Uber or Lyft.
With the availability of services like Amazon Prime and Walmart shipping, as well as local grocery stores now offering similar services, you can make it two weeks at home “without” shopping. Don’t go into stores in public. Avoid the malls and any restaurants.
Keep Your Distance
Again, it’s not easy to avoid people, even if you’re trying really hard. Think about the times you try to sneak off to the store just to grab one thing. You don’t want to be seen by anyone you know but, of course, you’re spotted.
So, even in your best effort to avoid people because you might be carrying coronavirus, it’s bound to happen. In that case, keep a safe distance. Health officials say that’s 6 feet from the nearest person.
Reminder: The guidance above is only for people who’ve been told to practice social distancing and monitor themselves for signs of coronavirus.
If you haven’t traveled to any of those places marked above recently, you’re fine. Health officials still remind everyone to practice ordinary healthy habits to avoiding spreading coronavirus or any disease. That includes:
- Washing your hands regularly
- Covering your mouth and nose when you sneeze or cough
- Cleaning surfaces in your home — including your phone — regularly
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