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As the novel coronavirus takes over the world with over 115,000 cases and thousands of deaths, world health officials are determined to gain control, over what the World Health Organization (WHO) has officially declared a pandemic. Health experts and the CDC (Centers for Disease Control Prevention) suggest, that to limit a person’s risk of exposure or spreading the virus between people, we should practice “social distancing.”

Per the CDC’s recommendation, social distancing is “remaining out of congregate settings, avoiding mass gatherings, and maintaining distance” whenever possible to limit the virus from spreading. The CDC explains that the virus is transmitted through droplets from coughs and sneezes, this is why distancing yourself 6 feet from one another is so important.

Social distancing is not the same as self-quarantine or isolation, although both practices are being utilized to minimize the coronavirus spread. The primary difference is that quarantine or isolation restricts the movement of people within a certain area or zone to limit transferring and spreading an infection. Social distancing does not have these locational constraints, rather it is a behavior to lower the risk in most circumstances.

Social distancing is widely viewed as an effective behavior in reducing the spread of a virus and something that anyone and everyone should practice. Professor Denise Rousseau, a professor of organizational behavior and public policy at Carnegie Mellon University, suggests that we should all ask ourselves in our day to day interactions, “At a time like this, how can I reduce the risk?” It is important to know that even if you’re young and healthy and are unlikely to be severely impacted by coronavirus, keeping a distance from others could limit the impact on elderly or more vulnerable people, especially those with respiratory conditions and auto immunities.

Remember to follow the stay at home order in your city and to practice as much social distancing and isolation as possible.