Doing our part to control the COVID-19 pandemic
I am amazed at the extraordinary times in which we currently live – international travel restrictions, schools closures, suspended or cancelled sporting events, and entire countries on lockdown. I know that many are wondering “are these steps really necessary?” While the short answer is “yes,” let’s consider why.
Hope for the best, but prepare for the worst
When it comes to emergency preparedness, the saying “hope for the best, but prepare for the worst” is a valuable guide for readiness. In essence, we need to be optimistic that the thoughtful, proactive steps we are taking will accomplish our goals for containing and mitigating the spread of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), but we must balance this belief with action.
What is social distancing?
As described by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), social distancing is a community-based approach to contain or mitigate transmission of a disease. Social distancing interventions are mitigation measures to achieve the following goals:
- Slow transmission of a disease
- Allow more time for adequate preparations
- Improve capacity of healthcare system to care for people who are sick
- Protect people at higher risk for severe illness (i.e., older adults and persons with pre-existing health conditions)
- Protect critical workforces (e.g., healthcare and infrastructure)
While implementation may vary, the following is a list of social distancing measures currently available and in use:
- Isolation of sick persons
- Quarantine of exposed persons
- Tracing contacts
- School dismissals and closures
- Workplace measures and closures
- Crowd avoidance
Why is social distancing necessary?
Social distancing is necessary because pharmaceutical measures, like vaccinations and anti-viral medications, are not currently available to prevent or treat COVID-19. Also, while our U.S. healthcare system is highly advanced, it is a lean operation with limited capacity to manage surges in demand that could occur with community spread of COVID-19.
Doing our part
While school closures, working from home, and cancelled sporting events may be inconvenient for all of us, they are a critical step in helping to control this pandemic as requested by WHO Director-General, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.
To effectively control the pandemic, it is essential that each of us do everything we can, including social distancing, to prepare and protect ourselves, our communities, and the most vulnerable people within our country. It is our duty and we must all do our part.