A Global Perspective on Social Distancing
COVID-19, which originated from Wuhan, China, spread across the globe in a matter of months, becoming a pandemic and forcing people worldwide to stay home.
As of April 13, 1.77 million people globally have contracted COVID-19. To prevent the virus from spreading, the World Health Organization (WHO) recommended social distancing when outside of the home. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) defines social distancing as “keeping space between yourself and other people outside of your home.” To effectively socially distance, you must keep six feet between yourself and others, avoid gathering in groups, and stay away from crowded areas. Social distancing has become an all-encompassing term for preventative measures the average person can take, such as staying home and being careful when going out. While these steps seem simple, they are crucial to keeping COVID-19 cases as low as possible and are necessary to curb the virus.
The effectiveness of social distancing can be seen in the data collected by the World Economic Forum. Assuming that without social distancing the total number of cases doubles every four days, and every eight days with social distancing, in a sample population, the results are drastic. After sixty days, there would be 32,768 cases without any social distancing. With social distancing being implemented after 2,000 cases, there would be 8,192 cases, and if it was implemented after 500 cases, there would be only 4,096 cases. This would cut cases of COVID-19 by 75% and 87.5% respectively. Even waiting to start social distancing when the number of cases reaches 2,000 as opposed to 500 doubles the number of cases. The data proves it: social distancing is crucial to reducing the spread of coronavirus. While there is currently no vaccine or cure to COVID-19, social distancing is the best way to fight it.
Yet some people are choosing not to socially distance. Spring breakers flooded beaches along the Gulf Coast, primarily in Florida. Brady Sluder, a college student, was filmed saying, “If I get corona, I get corona. At the end of the day, I’m not going to let it stop me from partying.” Sluder was met with a swarm of online criticism and later apologized. But his quote became synonymous with the packed beaches that accelerated the spread of COVID-19. Granted, federal and Florida state leadership were slow to admit the risks and downplayed the severity of the situation. Governor Ron DeSantis waited until April 1 to issue a statewide order to stay home, well after peak travel time for spring break had ended. But three weeks after Sluder’s comment, there are still people going to mass gatherings and risking their own and the public’s safety.
The religious holidays of Passover and Easter often pack houses of worship. Yet under the current circumstances, many across the country stayed home and observed the holidays in isolation. However, there are some who COVID-19 did not deter from going to their place of worship. The Life Tabernacle Church in Baton Rouge continued to have in-person services on Easter. Pastor Tony Spell said before the service that he expected to have 2,000 people in attendance, per BuzzFeed News. Spell was issued a misdemeanor summons for six counts of violating the Governor of Louisiana’s executive order banning mass gatherings for his actions. His poor judgement could lead to many people contracting the virus and possibly dying.
Spell directly quoted the Declaration of Independence in justifying his actions, while many of the spring breakers justified their decisions by saying things like: “It’s a free country.” Americans value freedom over all else; it’s what our country is about. But when our pursuit of freedom to do what we want begins to detrimentally impact the safety of ourselves and others, we need to reconsider. Having fun with your friends in Florida or worshiping a sacred holiday in a sacred place are important, but so is your health and the health of others. Social distancing takes a toll on all of us. But we have to stay home unless we need to do something essential, and when we do go out, we have to be extremely cautious. But social distancing will slow COVID-19 and bring us back to normal. Socially distance and don’t be a “COVIDIOT”.