Coronavirus • 27 March, 2020

What do you need to know about social distancing?

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Social distancing is a public health practice that aims to prevent sick people from coming in close contact with healthy people in order to reduce opportunities for disease transmission. It can include large-scale measures like canceling group events or closing public spaces, as well as individual decisions such as avoiding crowds, CDC and Johns Hopkins experts said.

IMAGE CREDIT: SIOUXSIE WILES AND TOBY MORRIS / WIKIMEDIA COMMONS

With COVID-19, the goal of social distancing right now is to slow down the outbreak in order to reduce the chance of infection among high-risk populations and to reduce the burden on health care systems and workers. Experts describe this as "flattening the curve," which generally refers to the potential success of social distancing measures to prevent surges in illness that could overwhelm health care systems.

Animated GIF of curves indicating a lower number of cases the sooner social distancing measures are put into place

"The goal of social distancing in the U.S. should be to lower the pace and extent of spread of COVID-19 in any given city or community," Inglesby wrote recently on Twitter. "If that can happen, then there will be less people with disease, and less people needing hospitalization and ventilators at any one time."

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