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Wednesday, Nov 25, 2020

An expert guide to social distancing – and what to do if friends and

Officials around the world say that “social distancing” is the key to slowing the spread of coronavirus. But does that mean you can have friends over, and what do you do if you live with someone who’s throwing caution to the wind? We asked three experts for their thoughts. Dr Thomas Chin-Chia Tsai: “Avoid situations where there are crowds.
That doesn’t mean that people have to go into self-isolation, unless they have actual symptoms and need to self-quarantine. It’s OK to go for a walk outside. You can still get takeout from restaurants.

If you’re asymptomatic, you can still maintain your family relationships as you otherwise would – just avoid larger groups. It’s still just about decreasing the frequency of interactions.”Dr Arthur L Caplan: “Right now, mental health has to take a secondary place. Stay indoors, stay away from others as much as you can, and get your food delivered.

Minimize your trips out for medicine or to the grocery store. Bring your hand sanitizer and use it all the time. Don’t shake hands. Don’t use paper money. Get ready to do a lot of television watching. You should call your shut-in parents and so forth.”

Dr Jessica Justman: “If gatherings are small, I am still going to say it’s generally OK, depending on who the individuals are. The CDC guidelines for people living in the New Rochelle containment area specifically talk about older individuals with chronic health conditions trying to limit themselves to social gatherings with fewer than 10 people.

In Austria, [officials] said you shouldn’t be with more than five. I honestly think these are numbers that people are pulling out of the air, but people need guidelines.”Tsai: “Assuming that everybody’s asymptomatic, then it’s probably safe. But within the confines of that social interaction, still practice social distancing. Be careful about surfaces that are being touched or shared.

Making sure everybody washes his hands and cleans surfaces. Maybe don’t shake hands. It’s still important to maintain social relationships, but do it in a thoughtful way.”(In guidelines published Monday, the UK government advises against having visitors to your home, especially if you are over the age of 70, pregnant or have underlying health conditions.)

Tsai: “I would recommend that you would still follow the same social distancing principles. The ultimate goal is to break the chain of transmission. If you can maintain your own distance sort of respectfully, then you can still minimize not just the risk to yourself but also the risk from you potentially transmitting to other friends and families in your social circle.

Each individual is an opportunity to break that transmission. So even though others around you may be in less than ideal social distancing scenarios, there’s an important individual obligation to do what you can within reasonable or social bounds.”Caplan: “Do your best to socially distance. Maybe don’t sleep in the same bed? Minimize sexual contact. Don’t share toothbrushes. Try to
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