Physical Distancing

Why limiting close physical contact with others can help slow the spread of COVID-19

WHAT IS PHYSICAL DISTANCING?

As a way to reduce exposure to and the spread of COVID-19, experts are recommending that we stay home to avoid close contact with others. This is also known as “social distancing” which refers to limiting physical contact or keeping physical distance between people to slow the spread of COVID-19. For this reason, community-wide measures that promote physical distancing are in place, like the closing of schools, transitioning to online platforms for colleges and universities, working from home, cancellation of major events, closings of popular restaurants and businesses like movie theaters and gyms, and only going out for essential services.


HOW DO I PRACTICE PHYSICAL DISTANCING?

To practice physical distancing:

  • Stay home unless you need to buy food, go to the doctor, or are an essential worker who must show up to work.
  • Maintain at least six feet of distance between people, even when you are wearing a face covering.
  • Do not gather in small or large groups in private or public places. This applies to people of any age, including teens and younger adults. Children should not have in-person playdates while school is out.
  • Stay out of crowded places.
  • Avoid going to the supermarket at a busy time, and if possible, buy food online. Some supermarkets have set a certain timeframe within their store hours for high-risk populations to do their shopping.

The recommendation to stay at home is the single-most important thing we can all currently follow. While many of us can and should stay at home, the reality is that for some, staying at home is not an option. Workers that are part of essential industries, like health care, agriculture, grocery stores, transportation, construction, etc., cannot work from home. Our society depends on them showing up to work to ensure the essential services we need to function continue to be carried out. But for those of us who can, we have a responsibility to them and our entire community, to follow the critical recommendation to stay at home.

If your job requires you to continue to interact closely with others, which makes physical distancing difficult, continue to practice it as best you can, as well as preventive actions like washing your hands often and correctly to protect yourself and others around you.


WHY IS PHYSICAL DISTANCING IMPORTANT?

The goal of physical distancing is to reduce the chance of infection among high-risk populations and to lessen the burden on health care systems and workers. For example, if too many people become sick with COVID-19 at once and need intensive care at the same time, hospitals may not be able to properly care for all patients due to shortages of beds, respiratory masks, and health care personnel. If less people are infected with coronavirus (COVID-19), less people will be needing hospitalization at one given time. It is important for everyone who can, including those at lower risk, to practice physical distancing so that we help level out the rate—or “flatten the curve”—at which people are getting infected.


CAN I GO OUTSIDE WHILE STILL PRACTICING PHYSICAL DISTANCING?

Physical distancing means avoiding physical contact with other people. So yes, going outside to get fresh air, walk your dog, and ride your bicycle are okay. Nevertheless, being mindful of how many people are outside at any given time and ensuring to keep a distance of at least six feet between yourself and others is a good practice.


HOW DO WE STAY SOCIALLY CONNECTED WHILE PRACTICING PHYSICAL DISTANCING?

Everyone reacts differently to stressful situations and decreasing close contact with loved ones, friends, colleagues, and the community is not easy, especially since our Latino culture highly values the time we spend together as a family and with our loved ones. However, it is important to remember that we can still feel socially connected, stay in touch, and express our love for each other in ways that are not physical. Thanks to technology, communicating through phone calls, texts, FaceTime or WhatsApp, video conferencing, and social media, it’s more possible than ever to stay connected. We can also still go out for a walk and say hello to our neighbors, as long as it's from a distance.

Continuing to practice physical distancing for a period of time can be difficult, but it is necessary to slow the spread of the virus and ensure we all do our part to minimize the effects of this pandemic. The federal government has released a set of “Guidelines for Opening Up America Again,” for state and local officials, which broadly outlines a phased and gradual approach that includes lifting some stay at home orders and other measures. However, these measures and physical distancing should continue to be taken seriously and followed until data shows that that certain factors at the state and/or local level are in place to safely re-open gradually, with everyone’s health and wellbeing in mind.


WHERE DO I FIND ADDITIONAL RESOURCES?

Webpages

Blogs