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What is Social Distancing anyway?

Sometimes the rules of social distancing might seem a little fuzzier. Here’s some of the less-clear activities.

Food delivery — probably OK:

While eating at restaurants needs to be avoided during social distancing, getting delivery of food or groceries is can be fairly safe, as long as you take some precautions. For example, the well known company Grub Hub is offering Contact Free delivery. Which means, the delivery person leaves your food outside your door at the time of delivery. Be sure to wash your hands thoroughly after touching bag handles or food containers, as well as before eating.

Playdates — cancel:

Staying at home can make everyone a little stir-crazy, but playdates — even small ones — are not a good idea, Baldwin says. You never know who might be infected but not have any symptoms.

In-person visits — swap for video chats:

As much as your kids love seeing grandma, you must scale back on visiting people outside your home, especially when they are at higher risk for getting seriously sick. Instead, there are many video chat options.

Going outside — OK:

Staying home as much as possible doesn’t always mean you have to stay inside. Those practicing social distancing are often still able to ride their bikes, take a walk and play in the yard, as long as they are able to maintain their physical distance from other people.

Non-essential appointments and activities — cancel:

Even if hair appointments, gym classes, piano lessons, etc. don’t involve large numbers of people, you ought to cancel them to limit your exposure to others and theirs to you. The one exception to this might be well-child visits at your local pediatrician’s office. If your child has a vaccine appointment coming up, call their doctor’s office for guidance on whether you should go or postpone.

Social distancing vs. quarantine vs. isolation

Social distancing vs. quarantine vs. isolation While the words “quarantine” or “isolation” are sometimes used to describe social distancing, they’re actually different levels of safe health practices. Social distancing, quarantine and isolation all involve limiting contact with others, but they involve distinct circumstances and require different levels of distancing.

  • Social distancing is when healthy people — who have not yet been exposed to the disease — limit their contact with others to lower the chances they’ll become infected and (perhaps inadvertently) pass the virus onto others. This is usually done collectively, as a community, and for an undefined amount of time to slow outbreaks.
  • Quarantine is when currently healthy people who have recently been in contact with someone who was sick with the disease, or suspect that they were, stay home and avoid all contact with other people just in case they’ve been infected. This is usually done for about two weeks or for however long health officials advise.
  • Isolation is when sick people who know they have the disease — or who have symptoms consistent with the disease — cut off all contact with other people, except medical providers, until symptoms go away or they are no longer contagious. This includes isolating themselves away from family members by staying in a separate room, if possible, or at least six feet away from others in the household.

What happens with mandated quarantine?

Mandated quarantines are rare, but they can happen. If someone has been exposed to a disease — or might have been — and is considered a high risk to the community at large, health officials at the local or federal level might require them to go into quarantine. These types of quarantines are generally done in a designated facility, such as a hospital, where a guard might be on duty to ensure the individual doesn’t break quarantine protocol. Medical providers typically check on them periodically to monitor any symptoms, and if someone becomes sick, they are typically moved to a different space for isolation.

According to the CDC, these types of quarantines are generally uncommon and haven’t happened on a large scale since the Spanish Influenza pandemic of 1918 and 1919

A note on maintaining mental health during social distancing

Social distancing can be stressful for kids and parents alike. So it’s crucial that families take steps to protect their mental health, in addition to their physical health.

Keeping a routine can help children feel like they have a sense of control. And parents should do what they can to manage their own mental health so they can help their children handle the change.

A key thing to remember, is that while social distancing can last weeks or months, it’s only temporary. In the meantime, Joshin has a great toolkit for you and your loved ones during this time