Does Social Distancing Cancel Your Daily Walk?

People and governments are understandably concerned about COVID-19. Our understanding of the virus is still limited, and there is no specific treatment for it across the board. While the U.S. hasn’t issued a national quarantine, some cities are telling people to shelter in place. You should follow all of your area’s guidelines about staying safe as risks vary throughout the country. And, risks differ from one person to person, the virus is much more dangerous for people who are older or have underlying medical issues. You can see a list of conditions that may heighten your risk here.

If your area calls for you to shelter in place, it means not to leave your home for anything other than essential reasons — getting food or medical assistance, for instance. This measure is not being called for in many locations. But, if you’re being told to practice social distancing, can you walk your dog? See your friends?

The opinions from doctors on going out are spread across the board. The White House’s official statement says that if you or someone you live with feels ill, you should seek medical advice and stay at home. Please speak to your doctor but do not go to the office without first contacting them. If you aren’t infected, you don’t want to come in contact with it. If you are infected, you don’t want to spread it. Additionally, if you are an older person or someone with underlying health problems, stay home and avoid other people. That means skipping your daily walk or trip to the gym. If you have a dog, consider finding a sitter or walker now because, if you have to self-isolate, you can’t walk your dog. The CDC doesn’t have any reported cases of pets becoming ill from the virus, but Hong Kong has had a dog test positive. So, passing your pets to a young, healthy family member or a professional might be an excellent way to prevent stress later.

Waleed Javaid, director of Infection Prevention and Control at Mount Sinai Downtown in Manhattan, said, “We are all in this together. This is one of those diseases where we really need to think about each other, and how we protect each other, as much as possible.”

Even if you are well and healthy, it’s essential to keep social distancing. That means a lot of personal space. The CDC hasn’t offered specific guidelines yet. Still, the basics are agreed upon — stay six feet away from other people — even family members. And, while children may only suffer mildly, canceling playdates protects the whole family. If a child in your family has a mild case, they can pass it to a parent or grandparent who could suffer far more. Unfortunately, for the time being, the best, safest way for families to spend time together is through Skype, FaceTime or a similar service.

The good news is, if you are under the age of 65 and in good health, social distancing doesn’t stop you from going for your daily walk. Gyms are closing in some areas, but parks are still open. If you are stuck inside, make sure to exercise at home. While it might make you a little stir-crazy, it’s better safe than sorry.

If you have any concerns about your situation, call your local police or town services. Operators at 911 need to keep their lines open for emergencies, but your town services can give you more advice about what to do in your area. You can also call your pharmacy or grocery store. Many places are delivering to people’s homes at the moment. They may be able to help you by dropping things off at your front door and leaving it outside, so you don’t have to interact with anyone at all.
March 19, 2020
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