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Social distancing means keeping distance or space between people to help prevent the spread of illness. To help slow the spread and reduce your risk of COVID-19, stay at least 6 feet away from others. Keeping physical distance is important, even if you are not sick.
Social distancing is especially important for cancer patients and others who have weak immune systems. Read more about COVID-19 in Children with Cancer.
You may start to hear the term “physical distancing”. This helps stress the importance of keeping a physical distance. But during stressful times, it is even more important to stay connected socially and emotionally with friends and family. For now, we need to support one another but while keeping a physical distance as much as possible.
The coronavirus spreads easily through the spray of tiny droplets from coughs and sneezes. It can also spread through everyday contact, such as through shaking hands, sharing items, or touching common surfaces. Some people may not have symptoms but can still spread the virus to others. Even when people feel better, they may be able to spread the virus for a time.
Explain that the best way to keep from getting sick, or from passing germs onto someone else, is to keep a safe distance away from other people. Germs are very tiny so we can’t see them. A cough or sneeze can spread germs through the air for up to 6 feet. They can also live on surfaces like a doorknob or phone. That is why we need to be extra safe: stay home and away from others, wash hands often, and cover our coughs and sneezes.
Although being safe is a good practice all the time, we hope that things will be more normal soon. Doctors and scientists are working to learn more about how this new virus spreads and to develop medicines that can help treat it.
If someone gets sick, it doesn’t mean that they did something wrong. Anyone can get COVID-19. We just want to be as safe as possible and do what we can to help stop the virus.
Get more tips on talking to your child about coronavirus and COVID-19.
COVID-19 (Coronavirus Disease 2019) is an illness caused by a new type of coronavirus called SARS-CoV-2. The virus easily spreads from person to person. Based on what is currently known, there are several ways that the virus may spread:
The “curve” is used to show how many people get sick with COVID-19 at one time. The coronavirus that causes COVID-19 spreads easily through close contact with others. A lot of people are getting sick at the same time. This makes it hard for doctors and hospitals to treat everyone.
The goal of social distancing is to slow the spread of the virus or flatten the curve. If people stay home and avoid contact with one another, the virus won’t spread as fast. Fewer people will get sick at one time. People will still get sick, but it will happen at a slower rate — the curve will be flatter. This will help doctors and hospitals be able to take care of the people with COVID-19, especially those who are very sick.
Social distancing means limiting close contact between yourself and others in your community, even if you are not sick or at risk. This is a voluntary practice to help stop the spread of COVID-19.
Quarantine or self-quarantine means staying at home and avoiding contact with others because you are at risk for COVID-19 due to possible exposure. If you are in quarantine, you should take steps to keep from passing illness on to others in your home: wash hands regularly, do not share household items, sleep in a separate bedroom, and use a separate bathroom. Quarantine may also be ordered by health departments or federal or state officials.
Someone who has been exposed to the virus but does not have symptoms should self-quarantine for 14 days. After 14 days with no symptoms, you are no longer at risk for getting COVID-19.
Isolation means that you have confirmed or suspected COVID-19 and need to be extra careful to avoid spreading the virus to others. Isolation may occur at home or in the hospital. Caregivers should wear protective gear to lower risk of becoming infected. Learn more about what to do if you have symptoms and how to care for someone who is sick.
Reviewed: March 2020