Social Distancing is a Misleading & Dangerous Term

We keep hearing about it: Social Distancing. In efforts to slow the spread of the Coronavirus, health experts are focusing on "social distancing" as the way to save the day.

(200312) -- HAWALLI GOVERNORATE, March 12, 2020 (Xinhua) -- People sit with a certain distance away from each other while waiting to receive medical tests at a makeshift medical test center in Hawalli Governorate, Kuwait, March 12, 2020. TO GO WITH "Feature: Arrivals in Kuwait rush for coronavirus tests as gov't tightens precautions" (Photo by Asad/Xinhua) - -//CHINENOUVELLE_1.0902/2003121601/Credit:CHINE NOUVELLE/SIPA/2003121602 (Newscom TagID: sfphotosfour530454.jpg) [Photo via Newscom]

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We keep hearing about it: Social Distancing. In efforts to slow the spread of the Coronavirus, health experts are focusing on “social distancing” as the way to save the day.

This might lead some to think that “hey, as long as I stay away from other people; don’t get too close, I’ll be okay.” Nothing could be further from the truth.

Earlier studies had the virus surviving up to nine days on surfaces, including paper, steel, plastic, and cloth. A recent study from the CDC from the cruiseship everyone was stuck on, bumped that number to 17 days. 17 days. Think about that for a minute.

There’s no one around, you sit on a bench outside. You put your purse on the counter, you touch a doorknob, a gas pump. Your purse brushes against the edge of the supermarket counter. You touch the pinpad to pay, you get your mail from the mailbox. You touch the bathroom stall doorhandle to exit the toilet, you wash your hands, all good, but those germs are still all over your pants’ buttons, and zipper…please tell me you didn’t set anything on the floor or ledge provided.

Points if you washed off the handle for the water faucet you touched to wash your hands with before you touched it again to shut off the water, or used a paper towel to do so…

Sure, there’s no one around, but the germs they left behind sure are. You’re not as safe as you think. Unless you’re bleaching literally everything before you touch it, you’re in danger of coming into contact with the virus.

One article suggested mail itself may be safe.

Sure thing, the mail is fine, okay, let’s go with that. BUT that mailman is touching the mailboxes one by one, picking up whatever germs on his gloves, then heading to the next one, opening it up, touching your mail, and closing the mailbox, then going to the next mailbox. Rinse and repeat. Those gloves aren’t protecting you, they’re protecting him.

Same with face masks: they probably won’t help you:

Surgical masks are entirely ineffective in this case, of course. The material lets pretty much any airborne particulate in. Even with medical training the N95 masks are only 95% effective. If there’s one single, tiny gap between your face and the mask, it’s garbage.

Another reason not to wear an N95 mask: Physicians are also regularly fitted for the N95 respirators, and there’s a proper way to wear them to ensure there’s no open space and the mask fits snugly against the face. People with no medical training might wear it incorrectly, Popescu said.

Plus, Chiu said, N95 respirators are “quite uncomfortable” to wear for long periods of time — and taking it off negates the effects of wearing it.


Please note that penetration of particles through the filter is only one of the possible sources of exposure to contaminants. Other potential sources such as faceseal leakage, leakage as a result of improper maintenance, or not wearing the respirator when necessary may contribute more to exposure than filter penetration. Each of these factors must be addressed and controlled. For example, all particulate respirators that are designed to seal to the face (including filtering facepiece respirators) can be fit tested using the saccharin or Bitrex™ qualitative fit test methods (with the exception of full-face masks in some countries in Europe), or using appropriate quantitative fit test methods such as the ambient particle counting method using the TSI® PortaCount®. Wearers must be trained how to properly use and maintain their respirators and the importance of wearing them all of the time during potential exposure. Please also note that respirators help reduce exposure to airborne contaminants but do not prevent the inhalation of all particles. As a result, when properly selected, used and maintained, respirators can lower exposures to concentrations considered safe for most non-biological particles. However, they do not eliminate the risk of exposure, infection, or illness since safe exposure levels have not been established for biological particles. In many countries, types or classes of respirators are given an “assigned protection factor,” or APF. APF is the expected ability of the respirator to reduce exposure when used according to an effective respiratory protection program. For example, an APF of 10 means that a respirator may reduce exposure by a factor of 10 (or 90%) when properly selected, used, and maintained. Therefore, even if a filter could be hypothetically 100% efficient, the expected amount of exposure reduction would be limited by the APF. Because no respirator will prevent the inhalation of all particles, none can entirely eliminate the risk of exposure, infection, and illness.

Respiratory Protection for Airborne Exposures to Biohazards

Not to be a fearmonger or anything, but staying away from people is only one thing you need to do. Limiting what you TOUCH, and being sure to wash your hands with bleach water when you’re done is another. We touch A LOT of things throughout the day, it’s pretty crazy really.

Of course, here’s your disclaimer: these statements may only be my crazy opinion, are not meant to treat, diagnose, cure, nor prevent disease. Please do your own due diligence.