My name is Carolyn Cannuscio, and I'm a social epidemiologist.
Every action that we take, and every way in which we can hold back from the public sphere, in order to limit the opportunities for transmission, is an opportunity, truly, to save a life.
I'm wondering if there are just one or two concrete pieces of advice you would want people to follow.
I think our lives should look radically different right now than they normally do.
I would say, limit your face-to-face interactions.
Work remotely, whenever possible.
No handshakes, no high-fives, no hugs outside the home.
Stand six feet or more away from any person you're encountering in a public space.
And severely restrict your travel from city to city, limiting that to truly urgent matters.
And limit your engagement in the public sphere.
Don't attend group gatherings, don't go to the theater, don't go to sporting events.
What we're trying to prevent is contact with droplets when people sneeze, cough, or spit.
I'm wondering what you think of small social gatherings.
How big is too big?
You will get different answers from different people about this, and I tend to be more conservative.
One of my sons said to me...
Mom, if we're quarantined, at least we can still have dinner parties, right?
And I said, no Gabriel.
That's the antithesis of what quarantine is about.
We have to minimize our contact with others.
I would say that's the general rule.
Limit it to what's necessary.
Do you recommend that people go outside, even if they have limited contact with people?
So, what I've been doing is trying to wake up at a very early hour and go, usually.
Or to go in very unpopulated places and walk in the woods.
I'm wondering what you think about taking flights.
An important consideration is that the movement of populations is the fuel for continued spread.
So in the 1918 flu, there was this massive movement of troops across the United States, and that troop movement was the perfect vehicle for continuing the spread of influenza.
And you may think that it's different if you're just traveling for spring break, but really, there isn't any difference between that kind of movement, for the purposes of wartime personnel needs, and the movement of people because they want to get to the beach.
We don't want to have prolonged contact with other humans in a confined space, and what's a flight, if not prolonged contact with other humans in a confined space?
So don't do it.
If you don't have to do it, don't do it.
I'm sure that's gonna be your answer for all of the following questions I have.
If you don't have to, don't do it.
What about public transportation?
So, many people are dependent upon public transit to get to work.
There might be some risk reduction practices people could adopt, such as trying to ride at off-peak times.
If you are able to walk or ride your bike, do that.
It probably is safer, from an infection perspective, to drive one's own car, rather than to use public transit, but every public health person hates saying that.
How should we approach caring for elderly or at-risk neighbors, or people in our community who might need help?
If people have been living with an elderly family member, they should reduce radically their contact with the outside world.
Especially the primary caregiver.
That's ultra important.
For elders who are able to take care of their own activities of daily living...
Like, my mom lives independently.
She's taking the CDC advice very seriously to stay at home.
And we also make a point to call her multiple times throughout the day.
My daughter, in the evening, will read a story to my mom.
My mom will read a story to her.
We play games together over Google Hangouts.
We really want to have ways to... continue to show her how much we love her.
And when will this end?
When will we know that we can stop social distancing?
I can't give you a date when it will end.
It would be good if we could have that date, because it would be reassuring to people to know that this won't last forever.
And it won't last forever, but it's probably going to be an uncomfortably long period of time.
Is there a happy medium between extreme social isolation and just keeping a healthy distance from people?
This will be a very hard time for many people.
And I would say that the happy medium is to try to think creatively about ways to engage socially without physically being present.
Call more often.
FaceTime more often.
Sing with friends out the windows, as people have been doing in Italy.
Play music for your loved ones over the phone.
Let your elders hear the voices of their grandchildren over the phone.
Give to food banks.
Give to homeless outreach organizations.
If you're able to be generous, now is the time to be generous.
And, be generous not just with our material gifts, but also: Truly believe, deep in your heart, that by stepping out of the social realm right now, you are doing one of the greatest services you can do to the public's health.