The Truth About Social Distancing

These ideas have come from an open letter written by Professor Jonathon Smith, a lecturer in epidemiology at Yale University while completing a PhD at Emory University.

There are two truths about social distancing that should be emphasized and clarified.

  • Social distancing is tiresome and frustrating, but it does work.
  • The people you live with are like a chain in which the weakest link can affect the entire household.

We are still in the early stages of the pandemic. That means that no matter what we do, there will still be new cases of COVID-19 and even more deaths. However, this does not mean that social distancing is not working. In fact, by staying 6 feet or 2 meters away from each other, you are reducing the number of new cases.

You may feel discouraged as you see the number of cases rise. You shouldn’t. This is the normal path of a pandemic. Stay calm. Everyone must hold the line and continue their social distancing as the pandemic most certainly will get worse. Stay strong knowing that what you are doing by isolating is saving people’s lives.

As you self-isolate, you are decreasing your contact with others in the community, but you are increasing your time with your family. If you consider your family as a chain, one link holding onto the next. As long as the chain stays strong, it will stay together. However, if there is one weak link, the chain may fall apart. In the family, if one person puts themselves at risk, they become the weak link. They are putting everyone in the household at risk.

For example:

  • If your son visits his girlfriend and you later sneak over for coffee with a neighbor.
  • Your neighbor is now connected to the infected office worker that your son’s girlfriend’s mother shook hands with.

Social distancing is about community members working together in unison. There must be continued self-isolation before results can be seen. By knowing what to expect and knowing the critical importance of maintaining these measures, the hope is to encourage continued community spirit and steadfastness in social distancing.

“Even once the war ended, famously on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month of 1918, the flu’s devastation did not let up. In spontaneous celebrations marking the armistice, ecstatic Americans jammed city streets to celebrate the end of the “Great War,” Philadelphians again flocked to Broad Street, even though health officials knew that close contact in crowds might set off a new round of influenza cases. And it did.”

(Davis, Kenneth C. “Philadelphia Threw a WWI Parade That Gave Thousands of Onlookers the Flu.”, Smithsonian Institution,21 Sept. 2018,

Stay strong! You can help stop the spread of COVID-19. Together, we’ve got this.

Thank you,
Cynthia Porter, Reg. Nurse

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