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  • Writer's pictureNewsmakers with JR

Viral Living: The Ins and Outs of Social Distancing (Update)

Dr. Jason Prystowsky's presentation on Wednesday night’s webinar, hosted by SPARC, provided a solid and up-to-date look at the COVID-19 pandemic, largely in layman’s terms, from its biology and origin to potential treatments and the first studies of its impact on different age cohorts.

UPDATE: Dr. P's presentation and his PP slides are now available online:

Among other issues of urgent interest to the community, the good doctor discussed the perplexing shortage of test kits for the virus, as well as the reasons behind, and practice of, "social distancing."

How not to do it. Even with this week's ordered closures of bars and eat-in restaurants, Santa Barbara's social distance policy is still a big step away from the kind of more restrictive “shelter in place” approach now in effect in San Francisco and surrounding counties.

For those unclear about the precise parameters of social distancing, however, here’s a good rule of thumb to start with: Don’t be like the emergent scholars celebrating spring break in Florida, whose parents must be extremely proud, holding forth in the CBS News report here.

Those searching for more, um, nuanced guidance, may find it in a thoughtful examination of the subtleties and gradations of specific social distancing dilemmas, published in the Atlantic as a Q&A with public health experts:

"But what exactly does “social distancing” look like for a woman trying to go about her life while staying healthy and helping keep the people around her healthy? Even detailed instructions are difficult to sift for actionable advice. If I have a fourth date tonight, do I go?

If I’m invited to a wedding in two weeks in another state, is it too late to cancel? If we’re on lockdown, and I live alone, can I walk to my friend’s apartment when I feel sad? If I end up officially quarantined, can I walk around the park at night for some fresh air?

The CDC guidelines acknowledge factors like the size of a community, its population density, its access to health care, and caveats that social-distancing measures can “be scaled up or down depending on the evolving local situation.”

There are conflicting messages coming from media and people’s peers: On Reddit, young people are signinga “self-quarantine manifesto” while, at a press conference, the mayor of New York City is telling people to continue visiting bars and restaurants as normal, to protect the local economy."


Images: (Chattanooga Times Free Press); (CBS News Twitter feed); A barber cuts a customer's hair in Hanoi (NBC News).

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