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Physical distancing is a responsibility we all bear

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Physical distancing is a responsibility we all bear
By WENDY WARREN, MD
Guest Columnist

Taking an objective look around Klamath County finds many citizens ignoring the advice to practice physical distancing to prevent the further spread of COVID-19.

That’s disheartening to me and my other doctor colleagues. There are reports of young people forgoing the best medical advice and holding parties and other gatherings. Driving past a park I saw a group of six playing basketball. Shopping at the grocery I saw people crowding the aisles and standing close together at check out. This will keep the virus active and circulating throughout the community.

We have all been asked to:
• Work from home instead of at the office, whenever possible
• Close schools and switch to online classes
• Visit loved ones by electronic devices instead of in person
• Cancel or postpone conferences and large meetings
• Maintain 6 feet of distance between us
We all have a duty to take these measures farther in our personal lives by:
• Using standard hygiene and washing hands frequently
• Not sharing things like towels and utensils
• Staying at home
• Not having visitors
• Staying at least 6 feet away from other people in your household, whenever possible. Isolating anyone who may be ill from other people
Every household will need to have a member go out and replenish food and other staples, but staying home is a way to prevent the virus from overrunning the community. There is science behind physical distancing.

The Signer Laboratory at the University of Massachusetts Amherst has created three physical distancing models. In the first scenario, there is no physical distancing in place. By day five of a person’s infection, they have infected another 2.5 people. By day 30, that infection has reached 406 people.

In the second scenario, physical exposure is reduced by 50 percent. By day five the infection has reached 1.25 people, and in 30 days there are only 15 more people infected.

When physical exposure is reduced by 75 percent, the five-day exposure is .625 people infected. The 30-day result is 2.5 people infected.

We know that most people will have no symptoms when they contract this virus. However, it will be life-threatening for a small percentage of people. Small actions, such as staying home and keeping others at a six-foot distance, can be a lifeline for the most vulnerable.

Think about your actions and be a role model for community-minded behaviors. We can get through this challenge sooner -- working together.

For more resources on COVID-19 please follow the link.