Over the course of the past month, new words and phrases have become commonplace: mass gatherings, quarantine, isolation, unprecedented, pandemic. These are words that were rarely used before, and it can be difficult to decipher what they actually mean.
According to the Red Cross, social distancing means deliberately increasing the physical space between people to avoid spreading illness. The organization encourages people to do this by staying at home, keeping six feet apart from you and others if you must go into public and listening to and following the direction of state and local authorities.
For student Holly Livengood, it’s important to not just stay six feet away from each other, but also to be educated and stay safe and clean.
“I think it’s very important that people sanitize their doorknobs at home at least once a day and increase their handwashing routines to keep themselves and their family healthy,” Livengood said. “I think in public people should be cautious of what they touch and carry hand sanitizer on them. I also think the public should be more educated about cross–contamination.”
Livengood works as a certified nursing assistant (CNA), and is thus seen as an essential worker. Her job has become stricter regarding its sanitation policies, but she believes they should be doing even more to make their employees feel safe.
“I am a traveling CNA and each facility has different policies, but most are requiring a cloth mask to be worn at all times,” Livengood said. “But no other equipment is being used…it’s scary…I feel like I should work right now because they need people, but it’s getting to the point where I don’t feel safe going into work.”
According to the Johnson county website, the stay home order placed by Governor Kelly overrules the Johson County order that was put into effect on March 24. However, if the statewide order ends before April 23, the county order will go back into effect until that date, unless either order is extended.
Michelle Banks, student, said it’s been difficult for her to deal with the stay–at–home order because of her extroverted personality and love for being around people. At the beginning of the stay-at-home order and the suggested social distancing, she was not taking it very seriously. Now, however, she realizes that the problem is much larger than just herself or her friends.
“I would be lying if I said I have not broken the stay home order in the early stages,” Banks said. “At first I didn’t think it was necessary and I was only thinking about me and now how this effects everyone. I wasn’t looking at the bigger picture.”
From the Emergency Public Health order, in Johnson county, social distancing requirements suggest maintaining at least six-foot social distancing from other individuals, washing hands with soap and water for at least twenty seconds as frequently as possible or using hand sanitizer, covering coughs or sneezes (into the sleeve or elbow, not hands), regularly cleaning high-touch surfaces and not shaking hands. There is no religious exemption for the county order.
Another student, Zoe Cerda, says social distancing is not only important, but necessary to keep the stay-at-home orders from being prolonged.
“During this time of social distancing, people should obviously put physical distance between themselves and others,” Cerda said. “This is necessary to ensure the safety of everyone, and to prevent a prolonged experience wherein we continue to see infection rates rise, so cities are forced to remain on lockdown much longer than they should have otherwise.”
Livengood is also afraid of the longevity of the stay-at-home order and social distancing requirements. She believes everyone should be taking this seriously and not become too comfortable with the new COVID-19 normal.
“I think more people need to be mindful of social distancing because there are people who are still having to go to the store or the gas station that have a compromised immune system,” Livengood said. “I am afraid that this is going to last longer than we are anticipating because people are starting to become lazy with social distancing and making sure everything is clean.”
Cerda says that though we need to be physically distancing ourselves, finding new ways to communicate with others is important and she has found good ways to do this herself.
“Emotional distancing is what we want to avoid. People, in order to protect their mental health, must find alternative ways to communicate and connect with loved ones,” Cerda said. “One thing I’ve been doing is holding weekly check-ins with my friends. We all call, text, or video chat each other every day, and at the end of the week we hold on large conference call to make sure everyone is doing all right.”
Tyler Rosner, student, agrees with the county stay home order and is using this time to work on herself.
“I journal to try to get to know myself better,” Rosner said. “I exercise such as going on walks and I also have been cleaning out junk drawers and cleaning up my space. I try to wash my hands as much as possible and focus on my physical and mental health during this time.”
By Gracyn Shulista (firstname.lastname@example.org)