EDITORIAL: Social distancing is necessary to combat COVID-19

Students, community should practice it for those that are at risk of serious illness


Courtesy Esther Kim & Carl T. Bergstrom

This graph represents how social distancing can slow the spread of an epidemic. The Harbinger Editorial Board strongly advises that students take measures, such as staying home with only family, to help slow the spread of the coronavirus.

As more measures are being taken to slow the spread of COVID-19, including the closure of Algonquin, it’s extremely important that the Northborough-Southborough community, including students, know what they should do in this crisis. 

In short, the CDC and many other health professionals have asked that we practice social distancing, essentially minimizing our contact with everyone, not just large groups. Most professionals believe that maximizing our practice of social distancing with anyone that lives outside our house is the best way to attempt to flatten the curve, the peak cases and how long it’ll take for us to reach it, and not repeat the current situation of Italy. 

While many teens might not love the idea of being stuck around their family for three or more weeks and would much rather spend it with friends (trust us, we’re in the same boat), it’s in our best interest to suck it up for the time being.

 Asaf Bitton, an associate physician at Brigham and Women’s and an assistant professor at Harvard Medical Schools, writes on medium.com that “We are trying to create distance between family units and between individuals across those family units. It is uncomfortable…But even if you choose only one friend to have over, you are creating new links and possibilities for the type of transmission that all of our school/work/public event closures are trying to prevent.” 

Basically, when you ignore these suggestions, you can be spreading the virus without even knowing it, leading to more cases in a much shorter amount of time. At the end of the day, schools are closing because it is not smart for us to be in such close proximity to one another and that includes hanging out with small groups of friends. If you are truly feeling cabin fever, consider going outside and exercising (Bitton recommends it), but try to not touch any public surfaces and still avoid physical contact with others. Talk to friends via texting, FaceTiming or other means. We are fortunate enough to live in a time where we can be there for each other digitally; it’s not the same as a physical interaction, but it’s the safest option at the moment. 

Yes, it’s difficult to stay sane and do everything that the CDC and the healthcare system are asking us to do, but there is not much of a choice in these matters. Time is ticking and we do not want to repeat Italy’s current situation. So unless we all want to be doing flash mobs from our front yard, we should do everything in our power to stop the spread, even if it causes us momentary discomfort.

This unsigned editorial reflects the views of the Harbinger Editorial Board