What social distancing is and how it has helped us in the past

Reporter: Sydney Persing Writer: Jack Lowenstein
Credit: WINK News.

You’ve probably heard lots of people throw around the phrase social distancing. But what is it? And can it help slow the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19)?

Health experts define social distancing as staying six feet away from other people. Of course, that is probably easier said than done for most people.

This tactic is now being implemented by major sports organizations.

The NCAA announced its March Madness games will go on next week without fans in arenas.

We went Alico Arena on FGCU’s campus Wednesday, where fans were getting ready to go to what might be their last game for a while.

So is social distancing realistic?

“You can’t even sit at a table and be six feet away,” said.

“What are we supposed to do? All of us just stay far apart?”

When we spoke to Susan Elliot, she was having breakfast for one, six feet away from everyone else.

“We have to take this very seriously,” Elliot said. “I mean, it’s very concerning.”

And that’s not easy.

“It’s nice to be out among people when especially you’re retired, which you can’t do now,” Elliot said.

So the next question: Is it effective?

“Absolutely. It works very well,” said Dr. Jay Gupta, with the FGCU public health program. “It has been used in almost all outbreaks.”

One outbreak doctors point to in particular is Spanish influenza.

In Philadelphia, with no social distancing, 250 people per every 100,000 died at the flu’s peak. In St. Louis, with almost immediate social distancing, just over 50 per every 100,000 died at the flu’s peak. When Philadelphia implemented social distancing the number of deaths significantly decreased.

If the FGCU women win Wednesday night, the ASUN championship game will be played Sunday at Alico Arena. FGCU organizers don’t make the call as to whether fans will be able to attend. The ASUN would make that decision.

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