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CoronaVirus Safety

Practice Social Safety Measures

Our family practice doctors at Cohen Medical Associates have noted with alarm and dismay the fact that so many people are not heeding federal and state governments’ pleas to practice social distancing. From the spring breakers still crowding the beaches to conspiracy theorists who believe this is all a giant hoax (it isn’t—believe us), many people are thumbing their noses at the virus.

They don’t seem to realize the danger, not only to themselves but to the community at large.

The new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) figures released last week show that those under age 50—who may have thought they were largely immune—represented 38 percent of those sick enough to be hospitalized.

“These preliminary data also demonstrate that severe illness leading to hospitalization, including ICU admission and death, can occur in adults of any age with COVID-19,” the researchers wrote.


Defining terms

In the few short months since the world has become aware of the novel coronavirus, many new terms have arrived on the scene. So let’s understand what they mean.


Social distancing—avoiding large gatherings, and remaining six feet from others


Self-quarantine—staying home when suspected of having the virus


Self-isolate—staying to one room in the home if sick


Flattening the curve—trying to stem a spike in cases so the medical community isn’t overwhelmed


A new term

Many people have difficulty keeping these terms straight. Therefore, we have coined a phrase that perhaps more effectively describes the urgent goal of social distancing: social safety. We believe this term reinforces the fact that people’s lives depend on staying a safe distance from others during this time of crisis.


Other types of social safety practices include:

  • thorough hand-washing
  • covering coughs and sneezes with either a tissue or your elbow
  • not buying the last package of toilet paper, the last bottle of hand wipes or the last bag of noodles on the shelf unless you’re out of these items.


We understand that the hoarding behavior we’ve seen recently affords people a measure of control over a frightening situation which is otherwise beyond their control. But try to think of those who can’t work from home or can’t stock up because their social security check hasn’t yet arrived in their bank account.


Eventually, the shortages will ease, so if you can, leave some of these things for those who really need them.


One of the insidious features of COVID-19, and what sets it apart from the ordinary flu, is that those who are infected can infect others before experiencing symptoms themselves. This is why it is so contagious and difficult to contain. So if you must go out, it’s best to assume you have the virus and behave accordingly; but stay home if at all possible.


We’ve been here before

It’s difficult to radically alter our lifestyles, but it’s happened in this country before. The polio epidemic of the 1950s resulted in such widespread closures as we’re seeing today. Children were forced to stay indoors and public parks, playgrounds, and swimming pools were shuttered, along with movie theaters (which provided the sole source of air conditioning for many in those days).


During World War II, Americans who weren’t actively fighting on the front lines were enlisted on the home front to contribute to scrap drives, paper drives, and victory gardens. Ration coupons were required to buy sugar, meat, coffee, butter, canned food, clothing, shoes, and gasoline.


In these and other crises, Americans have always sacrificed to do their part. But in more recent wars, the sacrifices have been entirely borne by our soldiers, so maybe we’re just out of practice.


The best way to help

So consider social safety practices as your contribution to the war effort. Support the front-line troops: the medical community, and their support staff: grocery store workers, truck drivers, police and fire departments, news reporters, the firms racing to produce ventilators and face masks for hospitals, the researchers frantically working to develop more and faster tests, drugs, and a vaccine.


These are just some of the essential people who will be at risk if we don’t all join together and suffer some personal discomfort now for their safety. Are you tired of this? Do you want it to end quickly? Then make the most important contribution you can and stay home.


Sacrificing for the common good is a tradition that goes back to the founding of this country. Remember the words attributed to Benjamin Franklin when he signed the Declaration of Independence in 1776:

“We must all hang together or most assuredly we will all hang separately.”


We’ll eventually get through this. The more people who see themselves as part of the solution, and who practice good social safety methods, the sooner it will be over, or at least under control.


In the meantime, keep these three “don’ts” in mind:

  • don’t panic
  • don’t despair
  • but above all, don’t put yourself and others at unnecessary risk.


Call us with any questions or concerns.

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