Prevention practices such as social distancing help protect vulnerable populations
The numbers of confirmed cases of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) are expected to grow over the next several weeks. The majority of people infected with the new coronavirus are expected to have mild or no symptoms, and to recover without the need for special treatment.
However, there is a vulnerable population whose risk is higher. It includes older people and younger adults with serious underlying medical conditions, such as heart disease, diabetes and lung disease. These people have a greater risk of becoming severely ill if infected with the coronavirus, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Social distancing isn’t just for your protection
You can help slow the spread of COVID-19. Social distancing is one of the most effective ways to prevent the spread of the virus and help ensure that people who are sick can receive the treatment they need.
“The reason this pandemic is different is that those who are infected are often asymptomatic or have very minor symptoms that can easily be written off as allergies or just being tired,” said Joshua T. Honaker, M.D., MBA, chief medical administrative officer, Norton Medical Group.
According to Dr. Honaker, this pandemic is vastly different from past outbreaks such as H1N1, SARS and Ebola, when symptoms were more visible.
“We have a potentially large population of people who easily could be infecting others and not know it,” Dr. Honaker said. “That is why social distancing is so critical to slow the spread of COVID-19.”
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Ways to practice social distancing
“Social distancing” means avoiding public gathering spots and crowded places such as schools, churches, restaurants, entertainment venues and public transportation. It also includes staying about 6 feet away from other people.
Social distancing has been shown to help slow the spread of the virus in countries like China. In the United States, the practice is the reason for canceling major sporting events such as the NCAA basketball tournament, closing schools and universities, and curbing nonessential domestic and international travel. But, social distancing is more than just avoiding large crowds.
Here are some ways you can have a big impact on public health and safety through social distancing:
- Limited social interactions — no sleepovers, parties or playdates
You and your family — especially small children— may already be feeling stir-crazy after a few days at home. However, it is important to not only stay in during this period of increased caution, but also to avoid inviting others to your home. Do not hold any social gatherings, sleepovers or playdates with friends or children’s friends.
“Communities and organizations are going to great efforts to keep crowds from gathering,” Dr. Honaker said. “Inviting groups or individuals into your home creates undue exposure and the introduction of new links to the potential spread of the virus.”
- Avoid going to restaurants and reduce trips to the grocery
Some social interactions are unavoidable, like shopping for food. Plan meals accordingly so you can make fewer grocery store trips during this time. Consider curbside services like Kroger Pickup to avoid crowds.
As of Monday, March 16, Gov. Andy Beshear ordered Kentucky’s bars and restaurant dining rooms to close. Carryout and delivery of food orders are continuing. Consider adding “no-contact” delivery instructions that delivery services like Grubhub are now using. You can continue supporting your favorite restaurant or coffee shop by purchasing gift cards to use once the virus is under control.
- Check in on vulnerable family members, friends and neighbors
We’re in an unprecedented time right now. People are likely experiencing heightened fear and anxiety related to the spread of COVID-19, especially among vulnerable populations. Now is the time to show kindness and compassion. Call elderly and otherwise vulnerable family members and friends to make sure they have their prescription medications, groceries and other necessities. If you go out, limit interactions, keep your distance with people in public and avoid touching surfaces.
- If you are sick, contact your health care provider
If you feel unwell, and would like to speak to a Norton Healthcare provider, Norton eCare offers 24/7 video visits and eVisits.
Use your MyNortonChart account to securely message your provider, connect with a Norton eCare provider, request or cancel appointments online and more. If you don’t have an account, sign up at NortonHealthcare.com/MyNortonChart.
Using services such as Norton eCare and MyNortonChart helps in more than one way. It minimizes potential exposure to COVID-19 — for you and others. It also reduces the pressure on our health care system and allows our providers and clinicians to focus on serious, emergency cases.
“We want our patients, community and staff to know we are taking every precaution against the spread of COVID-19,” Dr. Honaker said. “Remote care services help to reduce the pressures on our providers, clinicians and practices while providing you comfort and security in your health care treatment.”
If Norton eCare is not an option for you, call your primary care provider before seeking care anywhere. If you are having a life-threatening emergency, call 911.