Caregiving in the Time of CoVid-19, #10: Why Are We Still Doing This When It Doesn’t Seem to Change Anything?


The cherry blossom Japanese lantern from another year.

So why are we still social distancing and staying home? I have heard people ask this question several times in the past few days as we have neared and then passed 10 days of remaining in our houses. And why is the case-count still going up after those 10 days? Also, how come we have to miss visiting our spectacular cherry blossoms here in the Washington, DC, area?

It is normal to have cabin fever and frustration. But hold on.

A Medium essay, written by infectious disease epidemiologist Jonathan Smith offers many answers, and not those that we all want to hear, about the period of social distancing ending soon. Aptly titled Hold the Line, Smith’s essay explains an epidemic’s trajectory, and especially why the number of cases will continue to rise for the next few weeks (yes, while we are all social distancing).

Quite a few people are not observing the separation strictly.

Basically, our social distancing routines are saving lives and breaking chains of contacts — prevention. For a fascinating report, read this article in The New York Times about the effect of one event, a party in Connecticut. Social distancing also delays many cases, slowing the crowding in hospitals emergency departments and intensive care units — mitigation. With the illness slowed and spread over more time, the treatments get better and the attention to each patient is greatly improved.

Each family that stays home social distancing breaks a chain of connections and a chain of possible transmissions. The longer we stay apart, the fewer transmissions occur. Even little interactive cheats, visiting a boyfriend, a playdate, visiting neighbors can start a new chain. Without social distancing many more people would be very sick at the same time.

As I contemplate what I can do to help pass the time while my fragile parents are closed into their assisted living community, I am grateful for Jonathan Smith’s article. He provides many good explanations that I can share with my parents over the phone and in letters.

So take a look at the article and share it widely, and keep up the social distancing.

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