Social distancing: Protect yourself, family and community

social distancingBy Nuvance Health staff

The healthcare workers at Nuvance Health’s seven hospitals and affiliates need your help in suppressing COVID-19.

The spread of the coronavirus is on pace to overwhelm the U.S. healthcare system, but the public has a powerful tool to change this: social distancing.

Far too many people are falling short of what is needed, and this may be because they don’t understand what social distancing is and why it’s necessary.

It is imperative everyone fully embrace social distancing and enforce the practice among all around you.

You should self-quarantine if you have any COVID-19 symptoms or been exposed to the virus. Social distancing applies to everyone else.

Social distancing calls for you to:

  • Avoid public places.
  • Keep six feet between you and anyone with whom you don't have to regularly interact.

This means sacrifices, such as not going out for coffee or food you can make at home, standing six feet apart from others in line at the grocery store, and moving kids’ playdates to FaceTime or Skype. You need to determine right now with whom you must have live contact and keep all others at least six feet away always.

Consistently practicing social distancing will require personal sacrifice and at times be painful, but it’s the most important thing we can all do right now to help fight the spread of COVID-19.

Below are some terms and definitions that have quickly become part of our everyday lives. It’s important to know and understand them because of the level of misinformation that is rampant today on social media and on other channels:

Self-Quarantine: People who have recently have been near a place with widespread transmission but do not have symptoms are asked to quarantine themselves in their homes. While in quarantine, they shouldn’t receive any visitors and must always stay three to six feet from others. According to the CDC, once someone has been in isolation for 14 days and hasn’t become ill, they are not considered to be a risk to other people.

Shelter-in-Place: Sheltering in place means staying at home. If a “shelter-in-place” order is issued like what happened in California, people should stay in their homes unless they need to leave for “essential” activities and work.

Social distancing: Restricting behavior and limiting in-person interactions to slow the spread of disease. Avoid public places. Keep six feet between you and anyone with whom you don't have to regularly interact.

Isolation: Isolation is the practice of sick people staying away from healthy people to prevent the spread of disease.

Quarantine: The CDC defines quarantine as separating and restricting “the movement of people who were exposed to a contagious disease to see if they become sick.”

Exposure: According to the CDC, some can become exposed to COVID-19 mainly between people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet) through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes. These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs. This is the primary reason for social distancing to decrease the amount of community spread.

Furlough: Healthcare workers who have unprotected exposures to patients with COVID-19 might be subject to a furlough from work in a healthcare facility or other healthcare setting until 14 days after the last potential exposure. Nuvance Health follows CDC criteria for when those employees can return to work.

Asymptomatic: This is a term for person who has been exposed to COVID-19 or has been diagnosed as COVID-19 positive but is showing no symptoms of the virus.

Contact of a Contact: Any individual who has interacted with someone who had close contact with a confirmed COVID-19-positive patient is considered a Contact of a Contact. This could be a spouse, children, co-workers, etc. This person, the Contact of a Contact, is not at risk for infection and would not be subject to quarantine unless the original individual, the person who had close contact, had or developed symptoms, or tested positive for the virus causing COVID-19.

COVID-19 Positive Patient: This is someone who has been confirmed through testing to have the virus. People who have been confirmed positive are isolated in their homes for 14 days.

Sample Collection Sites: There are many drive-through sample collection sites opening in our region. Tests are not conducted at these sites. Once people who are symptomatic have received an order from their physician, they make an appointment at these sites where trained providers collect a nasal sample. That sample is then sent to a lab for testing. It may take up to six days to get the test results back. Doctors notify their patients of the results.

Testing: If someone thinks they have been exposed to COVID-19 and develop a fever and symptoms such as cough or difficulty breathing, they should call their healthcare provider for medical advice. Tests are not available for people who are not showing symptoms. The test is not a blood test. It is conducted from a nasal sample collected by a trained provider.

Pandemic: A pandemic is an epidemic that has spread worldwide. The coronavirus was labeled a pandemic by the World Health Organization on March 11.