Social distancing is a public health safety intervention used to reduce the likelihood of transmitting communicable disease. Social distancing involves minimizing exposure to infected individuals by avoiding large public gathering venues, adhering to spacing requirements in the workplace, and following proper personal hygiene practices.
Strategies for Effective Social Distancing
The goal of social distancing is to limit exposure to infectious bacteria and viruses during a communicable disease outbreak. The following strategies may be useful in conducting social distancing:
- Adhere to public health hygienic recommendations by washing your hands after touching commonly used items or coming into contact with someone who is sick.
- Proper hand washing involves scrubbing hands for at least 20 seconds with soap and water.
- Avoid touching your face, nose, and mouth and avoid rubbing your eyes.
- Practice proper coughing or sneezing etiquette.
- Properly dispose of anything that comes in contact with your mouth such as tissues or plastic eating utensils.
- Avoid coming in contact with individuals displaying symptoms of illness.
- If working in close proximity to other individuals, attempt to keep a distance of approximately three feet from the nearest person while working.
- Avoid congregating in large public venues such as theaters or sporting events.
Notifying Building Occupants
A social distancing protocol will most likely be communicated through the issuance of a cAlert and be based on recommendations of public health authorities.
Consult with a physician for recommendations on obtaining medical prophylaxis such as antibiotics or vaccine.
One possibility of enacting social distancing procedures is the closure of venues where large amounts of people may congregate. For information on University closings, refer to the University website or cAlert. Individuals should also consult public health entities for closings on any public or private venues in their area. Lastly, University employees should refer to your department’s continuity plans for recommendations on telecommuting.
Personal Protective Equipment
Recommendations for wearing personal protective equipment (PPE) such as gloves or masks will be issued by public health authorities. If used correctly, PPE may limit some exposures; however, they should not take the place of other preventive interventions, such as proper hygiene practices.
Individuals with compromised immune systems are encouraged to consult with their personal physician to assess the safety of their workplace during an event that warrants social distancing.
The following actions should be taken prior to an event that warrants social distancing:
- Develop a family emergency plan that includes how they would be cared for if they got sick.
- Maintain a reserve of vital supplies such as food and water and prescriptions medications.
- Practice proper public health hygiene and hand washing techniques prior to the onset of an event.
Source: University of Chicago