Immediate social distancing is needed to prevent the disastrous spread of coronavirus.  

A group at Mass General Hospital in Boston recently offered suggestions to reduce the spread of illness. Here are some of the recommendations offered on March 14.

Because there is almost no testing available, the estimates are that many more people than we know are actually infected. The transmission is currently very rapid. So social distancing , not just by the elderly, is absolutely necessary.

If transmission is not stopped by social distancing among all groups of people here, the doctors predict (based on Italy and China) that our hospitals will be overwhelmed within 2 weeks, Overwhelmed means that every single room in the hospital would be used to treat COVID, some of those with the virus would be sent home and no other people suffering from other illness (for example, stroke) could be admitted for emergency treatment. If we act together to prevent spread, people will go to hospital but there will be room to treat them and others because we could not flatten the curve that shows the rate of new cases.

For the next 2 weeks, don’t go to restaurants. Don’t go to public places unless absolutely necessary. Don’t touch your face unless you have just washed your hands (you must work hard to prevent this habit!), and wash hands afterwards so as not to spread virus that might be in your nose. Wash your hands with soap before touching anything others might touch and wash your hands after touching something others have touched.

Stay far away when talking to others so as not to breathe in their breath. Encourage others to stay home, or outside and with distance from others as much as possible. Help others who need support in this. Follow steps to keep your home disease-free by washing hands, changing clothes, disinfecting objects with Lysol or alcohol or soap when you return. Stay healthy by getting plenty of rest, exercising and not drinking too much alcohol.

Eventually, many of us will become immune (doctors estimate 20-60% will become infected and 50% need to become immune to eventually stop spread). But if we act now, we can prevent a disaster in which many more people will die because we failed to help stem the current rapid spread. 

Apologies to those who find this emergency too upsetting, but it is a fact that we need to realize what is happening now in the United States in order to make a difference. Try to focus on feeling positive about helping slow the spread of illness. Reach out to find and offer mental support to others.

For daily news about the coronavirus, a great website from Johns Hopkins is