Social distancing has played an important role amid the outbreak of COVID-19 as it helps people stop the spread of germs throughout the community by not going out or being in physical contact with people.
Madeline Geeslin, health promotion supervisor for the City of Lubbock, said social distancing is increasing the amount of space in between individuals and an effort to reduce disease transmission.
“We do this a lot when we have disease outbreak. Like, we did this with, I believe we did this with Zika,” she said. “But the fewer people you come into contact with, the less likely it is a disease is going to spread, and so it really is going to be just working hard to keep people away from one another.”
Humans are, by nature, social animals, Geeslin said, so she understands it is hard to not be near people but encourages people to avoid going to restaurants and bars. A lot of churches and places of worship have also moved their services online.
In order to really respect the guidelines as they are laid out, Geeslin said if an individual does not have to go to an area where there is going to be a lot of people, they should not go but rather stay home and binge Netflix.
“But like I said, I know we're all social animals and we need human communication and contact. Thankfully, we have technology that helps. So, you know, things like Google Hangouts or FaceTime or all these apps (that) honestly, I'm not incredibly privy to,” Geeslin said. “But I know that there are lots of, you know, group chats or whatever people can use to feel connected during a very unusual time.”
As of right now, operations at the airport are continuing as usual. However, Geeslin said the health department is discouraging people from traveling.
“If you do not have to leave Lubbock, (if) you do not have to go somewhere, don't go. We're really trying to reduce the risk of transmission by staying in one place,” she said.
Richard Lampe, professor and chair of the department of pediatrics for the Tech Health Sciences Center, said if one is out with other people, there should be a distance of six feet between them. However, if they are at home with their own and nobody is sick, it is a different story.
“…(T)he more I see people do social distancing, the more I applaud that and in fact recommend that and demonstrate that that will be the only way to lessen the impact on the United States and particularly Lubbock, Texas,” he said.
Dr. Ronald Cook, local health authority, said in a news conference on March 20 social distancing may have a good impact on one’s physical health in terms of not getting sick, but can take a toll on mental health as they are not being able to do the things they normally do in their daily routine.
Some things Cook said may help maintain a normal routine and boost one’s mental health include having coffee with someone over FaceTime instead of at the shop, going outside and exercising to help the physical body stay healthy, getting of their pajamas and not sitting in front of the television all day long.
“Get up, get outside, get dressed act like your normal daily routine, and carry on with life as fast as possible. Most of all, take one day at a time, don't let fear overwhelm you,” Cook said. “Limit, so I said use Facebook and use social media those sorts of things but limit your exposure to that all day long. There are too many armchair quarterbacks on Facebook and other things. View respected news outlets for the appropriate information, there's just way too many armchair quarterbacks on social media.”
Getting out and helping somebody else is not only beneficial for people who are having a hard time being stuck at home, but also for those who cannot go out and get the essentials they need, Cook said. When people are not focusing on themselves and focusing their attention on others, it gives them a sense of purpose and it makes them feel better.
The whole purpose of socials distancing is to flatten the curve and slow the number of people at any given time that are infected. If there are too many sick at any given time, Cook said they are going to overwhelm the system.
“We know historically from other data, other diseases that it works. It's a little early here, we'll see what happens in California, we'll see what happens in other places like in New York to have much stricter guidelines on social distancing than we do currently,” Cook said. “So hopefully, if we can get all of our participants in Lubbock to play by the rules and keep social distancing, at a distance…I need everybody to do this.”
The outbreak and spread of COVID-19 is a serious issue that no one has really experienced in their lifetime, Geeslin said. Although no one may fully understand what the impact of this will be in the long term, they need to take social distancing seriously, especially the younger people who believe they will not get sick.
“I would encourage them to think about their grandparents or their loved ones or the people who they know who might have compromised immune systems or cancer because these are the people that they put at risk by not acknowledging the cause to stay in place and to maintain your distance,” she said.