The number of cases of individuals with novel Coronavirus in the United States is rapidly skyrocketing and the death toll has already surpassed the number of victims from the 9/11 terrorists attacks. As testing continues and If evidence holds during the outbreak, millions of others will become infected. Most citizens all over the country have been practicing and maintaining proper social distancing standards by staying home and limiting their time within the public under the guidelines set by the CDC and their local government officials.
After two or three weeks of enduring a Shelter-in-Place order, many are starting to get a little stir crazy from the limited social or physical contact with friends and family outside of the home. While many are focused on following the rules and avoiding contact with others, some have been knowingly and sometimes unknowingly cheating the rules of social distancing, which could be putting us all at risk.
9 Ways We’re Cheating on Social Distancing
Inviting your friends over for social time.
Inviting your friends over to your home or visiting your friends at their homes is probably the most selfish way to cheat on social distancing guidelines. It’s nearly impossible for you to account for everything your friends do when you’re not around to see them. If there’s a chance any one of you could come into contact with at least one person that has the virus and they could easily pass it on to you without you even realizing it. Law enforcement agencies have responded to dozens of shelter-in-place violation calls from area residents across the city, so authorities are taking the mandate very seriously and so should you. Some of the violations could lead to misdemeanor violations and fines.
Visiting your family
Visiting your family to socialize at their home is just as dangerous as your friends visiting you in your home. Again, if you’re unable to fully account for all of their actions in and outside of their home. Now is the time to think about virtual and Facetime visits with nieces, nephews and grandparents. You can also try streaming movies that you all watch together and chat about them virtually.
Shopping when it’s unnecessary
Running to the local grocery store or gas station for a quick snack probably shouldn’t be on your daily to-do list. Many of us do it without even planning for it, while some of us do it out of routine. If you need to go to the store, try going super early in the morning during non-peak hours. Also consider purchasing groceries from smaller retailers. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has temporarily authorized restaurants to sell bulk groceries (including “packaged meat, fruit, and vegetables, and dry goods”), so consider purchasing your groceries from your favorite local restaurant or small farm. Those who have access to services such as Favor, Amazon Fresh, Postmates, Grubhub, Lyft, and Instacart should consider using them as much as possible.
Exercising or working out with friends
This should go without saying, but going on a simple run or working out with your friends can be risky if your physical proximity to each other is too close to each other. There are many creative ways to enjoy an effective workout without visiting the gym or getting too close to another person. USA Today has a list of fun and inventive ideas and exercises that people all over the country are doing to stay safe and in-shape during the crisis.
Playing contact sports
Something simple as playing a round of golf, a pick up game of basketball or even a few friendly matches of ping pong might sound innocent, but each sport involves using your hands and a chance that you might touch a ball or an object that someone else could spread their germs to. Golfers are advised to practice social distancing rules of 6ft during rounds and ensuring golfers only pick up their own ball. If you play basketball, tennis or any other sport that involves someone else touching the ball, you may want to consider playing solo or taking up another sport that doesn’t involve the chance of physical contact with another player.
Child play dates
While some parents try to work from home and tend to the needs of their children at the same time, play dates are usually a good way to help the kiddos burn off some energy. But health experts say play dates may defeat the entire purpose of social distancing. Think about the number of germs they’re potentially exposed to on a daily basis, then add on the dangers of COVID-19 and potential exposure in your own home. Early studies of the virus appeared to show that children are not affected by COVID-19, but a recent study in Pediatrics found that 13 percent of confirmed COVID-19 cases in children did not show symptoms. So health officials are urging parents to avoid playdates with anyone or any child that lives outside of their home because you can’t expect kids to follow the 6 ft rule.
Traveling when it’s unnecessary
Flights super cheap right now, but don’t let the temptation of cheap travel deter your part in flattening the curve. Even if you’re planning a road trip, you are taking a huge risk in exposing yourself to the virus or exposing someone else if you have it and don’t realize it. Is it worth that trip to the beach, when you have to stop for gas, food and sunblock? The goal of a shelter-in-place is to limit your exposure to the virus and slowing the spread to other areas.
This should go without saying but going on dates or setting up a physical interaction with someone you’re seeing is just as risky as having your friends over for social hour. If you’re setting up dates via Tinder or Bumble, I hope you’re setting them up for a late date. For now, try Facetime or Skype dating until this whole thing passes. This time, you really don’t know if the other person has “cooties”.
Not washing your hands and touching your face
A lot of people are washing their hands more times a day than they ever have before, but many still have a bad habit of touching their face without even realizing it. Anytime you spend time outside of your home and in public, you are potentially touching a surface that might have been exposed to a person that has the virus. Take extra precautions to ensure that you will not touch your face. Washing your hands not only protects you, it protects the health of others.