In my post from “Insights for your Neighborhood,” I discussed some ideas for what social distancing means.  Social distancing as it applies to our current situation has been very much open for interpretation.

Increasingly, the federal government, state governments, and epidemiologist experts have provided clarifications around what social distancing means.  The organization Ariadne Labs recently published recommendations in the New Yorker and included an attachment with some guidelines.  These experts feel that we now are in a situation where community transmission is occuring, so stricter measures are now required to flatten the curve.  Below are their top level recommendations.

My biggest concern is that the public will be less likely to adopt these extreme recommendations if there is no end in sight.  I get it – we need to follow these recommendations.  But people will be less likely to follow these if they do not understand the anticipated duration of these restrictions. We are hearing that this crisis will likely last for months.  How will you get wide scale buy-in from parents and small business owners when it is unclear how long these restrictions will be in place?  You are asking a great deal from owners of small business and parents – be honest and transparent regarding expectations for the duration of social distancing, and then we can all determine the best way to sustain businesses and support one another as parents.  Without transparency, we risk a lot of parents feeling that since these restrictions will be lasting for months, they won’t bother with social distancing.

Here are Ariadne’s recommendations:

  • We need to push our local, state, and national leaders to close ALL schools and public spaces and cancel all events and public gatherings now
  • No kid playdates, parties, sleepovers, or families/friends visiting each other’s houses and apartments

This sounds extreme because it is. We are trying to create distance between family units and between individuals. It may be particularly uncomfortable for families with small children, kids with differential abilities or challenges, and for kids who simply love to play with their friends. But even if you choose only one friend to have over, you are creating new links and possibilities for the type of transmission that all of our school/work/public event closures are trying to prevent.

  • Take care of yourself and your family, but maintain social distance
  • Reduce the frequency of going to stores, restaurants, and coffee shops for the time being

Take-out meals and food are riskier than making food at home given the links between the people who prepare food, transport the food, and you. It is hard to know how much that risk is, but it is certainly higher than making it at home. But you can and should continue to support your local small businesses (especially restaurants and other retailers) during this difficult time by buying gift certificates online that you can use later.

  • If you are sick, isolate yourself, stay home, and contact a medical professional