What is social distancing?
Social or “physical” distancing is a conscious effort to maintain a distance of approximately 6 feet from others when possible. In general, this encompasses an avoidance of mass gatherings (which may include celebrations like weddings, religious services and events like concerts) and bonus cautionary measures like wearing a face covering if a congregate setting (which may include the workplace and school) is unavoidable.
Why should we do it?
By preventing those who may be infected with the novel coronavirus from coming in close contact with healthy individuals, social distancing reduces opportunity for disease transmission. Not only does this protect those who are high-risk, it helps to minimize the current surge on our healthcare resources. Recent studies1 have suggested that the majority of COVID-19 cases were caused by people with mild or no symptoms spreading the virus to others. This happens because people can be infected and contagious for 2 to 4 days 2, 3, without noticing any symptoms themselves.
Who should do it?
Everyone. Because there is still a chance that any individual, regardless of age or high-risk status, could be an asymptomatic carrier of the virus, wearing a face covering isn’t just altruistic, it’s life-saving. Evidence clearly links usage to lower mortality rates4 and adaptation to declining case counts.5 Mask mandates are now in place across multiple U.S. states and countries around the world; they’re also required in many public settings, including some major retailers.
Michael Grabinski, MD, MPH
“Socialization is at the core of being human. Keeping physical distance right now is key to protect ourselves, our loved ones and those more vulnerable in our communities; however, equally important is our need and desire to interact with each other.”
How can we do it better?
Let’s start with the name
The idea of “social distancing” is kind of a paradox. In these uncertain times, when we absolutely need each other more than ever, we’re
expected to live, work and learn apart?
“It’s all in how you frame it,” says 98point6 physician Michael Grabinski, MD, MPH. “That’s why the World Health Organization (WHO)
recommends that we refer to it as ‘physical distancing’ vs. ‘social distancing.’ Because while the goal is to prevent physical transmission of the virus, the hope is that people will remain connected socially—and we need that more than ever right now.”
Though overuse of technology has been associated with feelings of isolation and loneliness, technology is now the bridge to keeping us
connected—to everything from essential medical care to our workplaces and classrooms to fulfilling social lives—all of which will empower us to get through this with strength and positivity.
Staying social matters
It’s easy to fall into a rut physically, mentally and emotionally during this era of COVID-19. “One way to care for yourself and enhance your
overall well-being,” says Dr. Grabinski, “is through meaningful interactions that support each other and our own desire to still feel human.” The corresponding health benefits are backed by research. Some examples:
- The Harvard Study of Adult Development, one of the world’s longest studies on health and happiness, has found that participants who were the most satisfied in their relationships at age 50 were the healthiest at age 80.6
- The “Roseto Effect” refers to famous research done in the town of Roseto, PA, where a small community of Italian immigrants whose low heart attack rates from 1955 to 1963 mystified researchers when compared to Americans with similar risk factors. The statistics, however, began to shift towards the higher national average in later decades as the immigrants moved further from family and community. The conclusion? Strong community ties had a health protective benefit.7
- A 2018 study from the European Society of Cardiology found that loneliness is bad for the heart and a strong predictor of premature death.
It’s worth noting that the higher risk, which impacts both men and women, is associated with feeling lonely, not necessarily living alone.⁸ Bottom line: the mind is a powerful force over matter.
If you’re experiencing symptoms or think there’s a chance you’ve been exposed to COVID-19, start a visit with a 98point6 physician to get on the right path, including an order for viral testing in your local area.Take advantage of virtual care: Whether you suspect COVID-19 or simply have another primary care concern, 98point6 is the best first stop to evaluate your condition. By taking advantage of text-based care, an illness can be contained when it counts, avoiding unnecessary exposure—while still getting the trusted guidance and peace of mind you need.
For more information on COVID-19, visit: 98point6.com/coronavirus-update
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A Source You Can Trust
This resource was put together using expert guidance from 98point6’s board-certified physicians, as well as the latest information from the CDC and WHO.