A new term for most of us is already a part of our daily lexicon. "Social distancing" is here to stay, and by now we all know as we watch coronavirus numbers climb that adopting the practice is for very good reason.
People who choose to ignore the guidelines aren't just putting themselves in danger, they are participating in possible transmission to others. The aggressive spread of COVID-19 is what makes this a public health emergency, the ease in which the virus is transmitted. And maybe you will suffer only minor flu-like symptoms, but others could experience complications that make their illness serious or deadly.
Yet, despite the strong recommendations from public health agencies and experts, many people have chosen to ignore the social distancing guidelines. Some bars and other venues were full of people not long after several governors proclaimed a state emergency and President Donald Trump called a national emergency.
Grocery aisles have been packed with shoppers lined up cart to cart, many paying little regard to how far they are from one another. And on St. Patrick's Day, revelers gathered in bars, squeezing in celebrations before the doors were shut by government order, despite pleas from public safety not to do so.
We understand that not being social is asking a lot. It's a new normal that no one wanted to occur. But people need to be serious about taking steps to not spread transmission so those who suffer the most if they get sick have access to the care they need, and we don't overtax our health care system. We know this has happened in other countries. We need to learn from their experience.
So it means not gathering with 10 or more people at homes to socialize, and if you are in a group of non-family members, retaining that 6-foot distance. It means not shaking hands with someone you are introduced to. It means not holding work meetings where people sit next to one another.
It means keep following the social distancing guideline until we are well-informed that it's OK to stop.
We can do this. Yet if people ignore the recommendations of the medical experts who have studied and prepared for a pandemic, we will see more dire results before this is over.