In an attempt to stop the spread of COVID-19 health officials have urged citizens to practice social distancing.
“Social distancing is the way that we are trying to flatten the curve. We know Coronavirus is in our community…we know there are people who have the virus who are not symptomatic yet. We are trying to make sure that in that window of time where they have the virus, before they’re showing symptoms, that we’re not casting it from person to person to person,” Becky Martin, a scientist at an undisclosed lab, said. “The six feet social distancing is an attempt that helps keep person to person contact such that if the person was in that window of infectivity, but presymptomatic, they would still not infect the people around them.”
What is Social Distancing?
Social distancing is defined by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention as a measure taken to prevent the spread of a contagious disease by keeping physical distance between people and reducing the number of times people come into contact with each other. Examples of this include working from home, canceling school and continuing online, cancelling or postponing large meetings, and interacting with people by electronics instead of meeting in person.
“If the virus is in you and you cough it out and it’s not aerosolized and it’s on a droplet, gravity pulls it down just like anything else. So if you are able to keep your distance, that’s the benefit of social distancing. … I think it’s a really big part of this, it’s a necessary part that not a lot of people are understanding,” Heather Caldwell, a nurse for Sunflower Health Plan, said.
The Public Response
Studies from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington have found strong evidence that social distancing results in decreased COVID-19 transmission rates. Despite this research, large groups of people are still ignoring the orders.
“There is a huge belief by a lot of people that it’s not real, or it’s not as bad as they’re saying, or ‘I wouldn’t get sick, I’m not a person who can get sick’, and then last but not least, I think there is a huge population of people that just don’t realize how potentially life altering this virus actually is,” Martin said.
Unacast is a company that tracks human mobility data. Recently, they used GPS information from mobile devices to track the changes in how people are moving around. After the data was gathered, a report card and corresponding map were released. Grades were given on a state and county basis. Kansas earned a “C-”, while Shawnee County finished with a “C” (WIBW).
“I really feel like it hasn’t hit home to enough people yet. We’re in the Midwest, we are excluded from these international hubs. Our closest is Kansas City, and it’s a small hub…We’re looking at Italy and we’re looking at China…we’re looking at all these other places and so many people are affected,” Calderwood said. “Grandmothers, grandfathers, mothers, they’re dying and it’s in these peoples face so it’s very, very real. They’ve got police presence on their streets to signify that they’re not playing, you need to follow these directions, they’re iminent for our survival. We haven’t seen that here.”