Opinion: It's past time for us to take social distancing seriously

We should join together by staying apart to prevent the spread of COVID-19

With the global pandemic of the coronavirus looming over the U.S., the government is urging the public to implement social distancing as an essential part of their everyday lives to prevent the virus from spreading. 

As a result of nationwide efforts made by universities and colleges to adhere to this new standard of social distancing, most college students have been sent home or are attending classes solely online, like ASU. 

For those affected, having all this free time seems like a perfect opportunity to reconnect with old friends and family, and, to be unceremonious about it, have a big party. This, however, will have deadly repercussions

According to an analysis by Visual Capitalist, if social distancing is practiced properly, it will drastically decrease the rate of the spread and the number of people infected. 

As shown in the visuals of his article, the average number of people a sick person infects is 2.5 for COVID-19, and if we reduce social exposure by just 50%, the number of people infected after a month could decrease from 406 to just 15. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization have also released safety guidelines that encourage everyone to practice proper hygiene and implement social distancing as much as possible.

The White House currently projects 100,000 to 240,000 deaths from the coronavirus and that's with current social distancing measures. With the death increasing daily, it is imperative that we social distance to protect our families, friends and ourselves.  

If we don’t collectively take social distancing seriously, it will have dire consequences, leading to the faster spread of COVID-19 and a higher mortality rate, as seen in countries like Italy. Social distancing is truly the best way to proactively combat this virus.

In Italy, mayors have openly criticized those who refuse to socially distance themselves. The population of Italy is second to only Japan in having the oldest population. 

As the elderly are the most at-risk populous, it is vital to learn from Italy’s failure to act on and enforce social distancing and use it as proof of the need to socially isolate oneself whenever possible. 

In the U.S. 80% of deaths from confirmed cases of COVID-19 are people older than 60, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

This applies especially to college students, who, while less likely to show symptoms, can very easily promote the spread of the virus. We need to listen to the warnings of our leaders and, somewhat counterintuitively, join together by staying apart in this war against COVID-19. 

Many ASU students have been finding ways to implement social distancing in their lives, including Leah Russell, a first-year honors student who last week moved out of her dorm and flew back home to Maryland. 

“As an out of state student, I was disappointed that I wouldn’t be able to see my friends when I went home, but I know how important social distancing is, and I wouldn’t want to expose them to anything,” Russell said. 

Russell spoke about how she will speak to friends at a distance from her porch, and she even had a friend deliver homemade gnocchi through her mailbox. One benefit of the isolation, Russell said, is getting to come up with creative ways to stay connected with friends and family. 

As students, it is our duty to follow Russell’s example in an effort to protect the greater public. 

Accordingly, we have been afforded the chance to pursue our dreams and obtain an education — let us not take this for granted. Sure, it is our right to do as we please, but it is our duty to lead by example and take every precaution possible to avoid the spread of and end this virus entirely. 

In times of sobering seriousness and increasingly grim news, it's often good for us, myself especially, to have some comic relief. 

Here’s a video to a bit from one of my favorite stand-up comics, Sebastian Maniscalco, who’s “been practicing social distancing his whole life.” 

Hopefully, it can remind us that social distancing has more benefits than we might think. 

Reach the columnist at ianc23@asu.edu or follow @ianc0007 on Twitter. 

Editor’s note: The opinions presented in this column are the author’s and do not imply any endorsement from The State Press or its editors. 

Want to join the conversation? Send an email to opiniondesk.statepress@gmail.com. Keep letters under 500 words and be sure to include your university affiliation. Anonymity will not be granted. 

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