What does "social distancing" mean?

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LANSING, MI (WILX) - Many of you may be looking for new ways to enjoy the outdoors, while maintaining social distancing.

"Social distancing" is a term we've said a lot lately, so exactly how does it impact this outbreak?

Connor James shares a creative breakdown of how it can help you stay healthy.

We've all more than likely sat down at some point this week and watched one of Gov. Whitmer's daily news conferences.

Every time, we're told about crucial our role is in flattening the curve.

How though? How can one single person play a vital role in stopping the spread?

Well, take this guy for example, we'll call him "Junior".

'Junior" got back from a trip. He doesn't know it now but he has the novel coronavirus.

He just won't start showing symptoms for another three to seven days. In some cases, he may not even show symptoms for two weeks.

In epidemiology, the rate of how contagious a disease is is called the disease's R-0 (pronounced "R-naught").

The "R-naught" of COVID-19 is 2.2 (just for the sake of this demonstration, we'll round that down to 2).

This means one person will on average, infect two other people.

Now, back to "Junior".

He decides to ignore social distancing guidelines and hang out with some friends now that he's back in town.

"Junior," not showing any symptoms unknowingly spreads that to two other people, since the "R-naught" is 2.

This is where things like the curve comes into play.

Those two "Junior" infected will each infect two people, then those two will infect two, that's four. Those four will each infect two, that's eight. Eight becomes 16, then 32, 64. And that number just keeps multiplying until thousands are infected.

"Junior" is responsible for spreading this to all these other people, and while "Junior" and many of these other folks are healthy and young, Mamaw over here, is not.

Now, she has COVID-19 that her granddaughter unknowingly gave her. Her grandparents don't even know "Junior".

But here's what flattening the curve means.

Let's say these four folks social distanced properly, washed their hands, and took all the necessary steps to stay healthy?

Take a look.

All these people may not need to use hospitals, or even get tested because they avoided it.

Mamaw never came into contact with someone that had it now.

Social distancing helps spread the cases out over time so there's no huge spike, so there will be enough beds and supplies in local hospitals for those who like Mamaw and need it.

And here's some food for thought.

Not that some of these folks wouldn't get the coronavirus from someone else. But look what happens if, as soon as "Junior" got back, he isolated himself for a couple weeks.

Exactly.

He stopped and slowed the spread.

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