Editor’s note: As of Monday, March 23, 2020, all Ohioans are now required to stay in their homes to prevent the further spread of COVID-19 – this “stay at home” order is in effect until 11:59 p.m. on April 6, 2020. This order prohibits holding gatherings of any size and closes all nonessential businesses. It does NOT prohibit essential activities like going to the grocery store, receiving medical care, or taking your pet for a walk. For more information on what this order means for you, please go to the Ohio Department of Health’s Website.
On Monday, March 16, United States President Donald Trump advised Americans to limit social gatherings to 10 people or less for at least 15 days, including closing bars, restaurants, gyms and other social spaces. This recommendation came on the heels of guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
These acts of social distancing are designed to slow the spread of COVID-19, what health professionals are calling “flattening the curve.” But despite the term making headlines, a lot of people still have questions about what social distancing means for them. We rounded up the answers to some of the most popular questions.
What is social distancing?
Social distancing is when you distance yourself from other people. Experts suggest maintaining at least a 6-foot distance between you and others. Avoid mass gatherings and crowded areas such as bars, restaurants and public transportation. This also means keep your hands to yourself. Don’t touch people and keep your distance when you’re with others. According to the World Health Organization, social distancing can prevent infection, save lives and minimize the impact of coronaviruses.
Why should I do it?
Currently, social distancing is one of the only methods to help combat the spread of the new coronavirus causing COVID-19. There is no vaccine, and likely won’t be one for more than a year. Every one of us, regardless of age, needs to do our part to keep our communities healthy. Social distancing helps protect our healthcare and emergency services professionals from infection, and prevents an influx in cases that would strain our healthcare system and limit our ability to care for those who need care most.
But I get bored easily. What can I do?
It’s important to take care of your mental health as well as your physical health. Humans are social beings and we know that distance can be hard for some. Luckily, technology makes staying connected easier than ever, and there are many organizations offering new ways to engage online. Here’s a few things you can try:
- Get some exercise. Your gym may have closed its doors, but don’t let that stop you from getting your workout in. Walking, running and biking outdoors are all okay, as long are you keep your distance from others. You can also find many free workouts to follow along with on YouTube. Consider scheduling stretch breaks into your day as well.
- Check out an eBook, eAudiobook, videos and more through the Columbus Metropolitan Library’s digital library. Or just dust off unread books you have around the house.
- Visit the zoo. The Cincinnati Zoo will be hosting Home Safari Facebook Live events highlighting an animal at the zoo and a related activity you can do from home.
- Try meditating or yoga to relieve stress.
- Watch those shows and movies your friends have been telling you about.
- Get creative with cooking and try a new recipe. You can find lots of healthy recipes on the OhioHealth blog.
- Stay moving by organizing your closet, cleaning your house, gardening or checking things off your home maintenance list.
- Phone a friend and use video capabilities to boost your connection. You could schedule dinner over FaceTime or watch TV at the same time.
Is it ok for family or friends to visit?
Experts say this depends on the health of those visiting. You shouldn’t invite sick people into your home, and if you have symptoms, you should ask friends and family to stay away. This is especially important if your visitors are older or have medical conditions.
If everyone is healthy, it should be safe to have a few visitors at a time as long as you practice safe behaviors, like limiting contact, washing your hands and disinfecting surfaces.
You can also stay in touch in other ways, by phone or online.
Can I leave my house?
Yes, there are still valid reasons to leave your home, including getting groceries, picking up prescriptions or exercising. Just avoid being in close contact with others and touching your face. When you return home be sure to wash your hands with soap and water.
If you go to the grocery store, buy in bulk, if possible, to limit the number of times you will have to return. You may also want to bring disinfecting wipes to clean off your cart or basket, and hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol content to disinfect your hands as you shop.
Check our full list of precautions to take before leaving your house.