Social distancing amid coronavirus: Best practices in public

Coronavirus was declared a 'pandemic' by the World Health Organization

The coronavirus spread is resulting in an anti-social America.

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The World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a pandemic. As of Thursday, there are more than 127,800 confirmed cases globally and at least 38 deaths in the U.S.

People riding the subway in New York City. 

Health officials and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) urge people to use “social distancing" to limit their public exposure in an effort to stop the spread of the virus.

That means avoiding crowds and staying at least 6 feet away from someone to limit the spread of the outbreak. Unlike a quarantine, where people are fully isolated from others, social distancing is taking caution when in the public to limit the risk of exposure to those who may be infected with the disease.

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"Maintain at least 3 feet distance between yourself and anyone who is coughing or sneezing," the WHO said on its website.

How to practice social distancing in public:

Health officials suggest frequent hand-washing and using hand sanitizer after coming in contact with surfaces like handrails on subways or escalators.

That goes for communal spaces like office buildings and common areas in apartment complexes as well.

“If you don’t have walls or barriers in front of you, a virus could spread very easily,” Onisis Stefas, chief pharmacy officer for Northwell Health, told FOX Business on Wednesday, adding: “As you start to touch more communal things -- you grab the fridge handle, you get your coffee, wash your hands again. There’s really not much else you can do. Be more observant. Make sure you’re not touching your eyes or your nose.”

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Social distancing seems to have worked in the past. A study of the 1918 influenza pandemic in the Proceeding of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America showed that when public places like schools, churches and theaters in certain cities were closed and public events were banned, the population saw lower death rates compared to cities that did not close down public places.

Movie theaters

Nearly 70,000 movie theaters closed in China in an attempt to contain the spread of the new coronavirus, and Italy followed after a significant sales decline at the box office, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Almost 40 percent of adults in the U.S. said they would support the idea of shutting down movie theaters to avoid contact with others, the Hollywood Reporter found. As a result, more Americans are streaming movies on platforms like Netflix and Amazon instead.

Almost 40 percent of adults in the U.S. said they would support the idea of shutting down movie theaters to avoid contact with others, the Hollywood Reporter found. (iStock). 

But for those who want to continue to see movies in theaters, Stefas stresses the importance of hand-washing and carrying around hand sanitizer in public places. Keeping your distance from others in the theaters is also advised.

At restaurants

One-third of Americans said they would stay closer to home and eat out less frequently, according to findings from the research group Technomic.

Public health experts, however, say it's perfectly fine to eat out at a restaurant as long as you're bringing hand sanitizer and avoiding close contact with people who are coughing and sneezing.

How social distancing is impacting the economy 

Still, social distancing is a major threat to small businesses and the economy. Airlines globally are slashing ticket prices as fewer people opt to fly. What's more, with fewer people flying, that means fewer people will be at airports buying from retail vendors. Broadway show tickets were also been discounted amid coronavirus fears to encourage people to come out to shows before they were outright canceled Thursday. And restaurants from small business owners to big chains have also been seeing less foot traffic in recent weeks, which may result in workers getting their hours cut.

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