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Be patient — and keep your distance

How many times, over the years, have we been old by doctors, “You have a virus. There’s no real treatment. You will just have to suffer through it.”

A virus, according to dictionary.com, is an ultramicroscopic, metabolically inert, infectious agent that replicates only within the cells of living hosts. By ultramicroscopic it means the virus is less than 300 nanometers in diameter. A nanometer is one billionth of a meter.

That’s why President Donald Trump says we are at war with an invisible enemy, referring to COVID-19, the 2019-20 coronavirus of the year(s). How, we ask, could something so small wreak this much havoc on a global scale? It may be small, but it is hugely problematic for humans who are prone to congregate, associate, integrate and be affectionate. A high percentage of humans want to be with other humans.

As the last phrase in the dictionary.com definition of a virus says, it is a metabolically inert infectious agent that replicates only within the cells of a living host. That’s medical jargon that simply says a virus will not grow unless it has a viable host; in this case, generally a human being. If the virus escapes its host and, let’s say, is on a hard surface, it will remain viable for a time, but it cannot grow until it finds a new host who transfers the virus into its body by touching its hands to its mouth, nose or eyes.

The virus can be coughed out of a carrier and be breathed by another person in close proximity. Once inside a new host, it will grow and attack.

That’s why most all of us have come to learn a new and very important phase: social distancing.

In 2006 during the Avian Flu pandemic, medical experts recommended three feet as the safe “social distance.” Scientific wisdom with COVID-19 now recommends six feet.

It appears the only real way to curb the spread of this new coronavirus is to spread the people. Health departments recommend no gatherings of 10 or more people. And even in gatherings of that size, they recommend a strict protocol of social distancing.

Yes, it’s inconvenient, but adherence to these guidelines is the best way to combat this invisible enemy.

Families should bond during this time of recommended isolation. But even then, care must be taken when someone has left the confines of the family home. Hands must be washed regularly. If a family member is coughing or sneezing, care to disinfect must be taken.

It is not the time to call eight of your closest friends over for a party. There will be time for that when this passes, and this, too, shall pass.

Children home from schools should not be allowed to have sleepovers or gather up for games inside or outdoors. As some have said, this is not your typical “snow day.”

It’s a great time to catch up with family and old friends via telephone, email, text or maybe Facebook. While we all would like for our world to return to normal tomorrow, that’s highly unlikely. We must be patient … and do our part with social distancing.

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