Why social distancing is so hard - and so important

SEATTLE – It’s up to us to slow the spread of the coronavirus through social distancing, according to members of the White House Coronavirus Task Force, state and local leaders and our medical community.

Steve Pergam is the medical director of infection prevention at Seattle Cancer Care Alliance and an infectious disease researcher for Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center.

“The places that have had the most success in controlling this particular virus are in countries and locations that have worked really hard at social distancing," he said.

So over the last several days, many of you who are non-essential employees are probably spending a lot of time at home, practicing social distancing. Some of you who have children at home through at least April 24.

“We have to do like online school,” said Vivian Crandall, a third grade student who we met shopping at Blue Highway Games in Seattle.

The store in the Upper Queen Anne neighborhood has a variety of puzzles, board and playing card games.

Like Crandall and her mom, many parents and children are looking for ways to stay busy at home.

Jeff Cunningham works at the store and said activity books are selling fast too. “I noticed that people were buying not just one or two puzzles and games, but they were buying like five or ten puzzles and games because they really have to stock up and it’s just surprising the response we’ve had.”

Like many retailers, Blue Highway Games just implemented social distancing measures, only allowing up to ten customers in store at a time, and using tape to maintain six feet of distance at the checkout line.

“We started a delivery service so that customers that aren’t comfortable coming in in person can still order a game online or call over the phone and pay for a game or jigsaw puzzle and we’ll bring it to them,” said Scott Cooper, owner of Blue Highway Games.

Pergam said limiting our social interactions will help slow the spread of the coronavirus, and the more interactions we have with people, the more likely we are to continue spreading it.

He recommends choosing a designated person in the family to pick up groceries and medicine. He said to limit shopping trips, and try to purchase in bulk.

Pergam said activities like walking your dog, or individual activities like running outside are good ways to stay moving.

Social distancing also doesn’t mean isolating yourself. Pergam said pick up your phone and use technology to have meaningful connections with your family and friends.

“You can have a virtual happy hour at your house,” said Pergam. “You don’t have to go out to a bar. You can still interact that way.”

If you have an illness, you’re more likely to spread it when you’re showing symptoms. So, if you get sick health experts advise staying home and calling ahead before making a visit to your doctor.

If it’s an emergency or your symptoms worsen make sure to get medical care.