With yesterday’s announcement by Gov. Edwards that he is limiting public gatherings to no more than 50 people while telling schools, restaurants, gyms and casinos to close their doors to the public, it is now apparent that the coronavirus is a disaster that none of us have ever witnessed.
The Governor is not alone in his actions. Across the country, mayors, governors, and other leaders are taking the same drastic steps. Then yesterday, President Trump announced similar restrictions at the federal level, and said these actions might last for many, many months.
According to the Louisiana Office of Public Health, the state agency that is leading the response effort, it is important that we all do our part to stay away from places where there are more than 50 people gathered together. This is called social distancing.
We all know, however, that before we do something, we need to know why we are being asked to comply. Here’s why this is important and why we should all take this seriously.
In just the last week, we went from zero positive cases of coronavirus to more than 170 cases. This means Louisiana has one of the highest per capita rates of coronavirus cases in the entire country. The situation is expected to continue unless we each change our behaviors.
What is social distancing and how does it work?
Right now, public health officials are urging everyone to take aggressive measures to contain this virus. This is called social distancing. Social distancing is a public health practice that aims to prevent sick people from coming into close contact with healthy people. This reduces the spread of a disease.
Social distancing slows the outbreak to reduce the chance of infection among people who are most at-risk from getting a serious illness. Social distancing also helps to make sure there will be enough hospital beds and doctors to take care of everyone who gets sick.
If we do this right, we can reduce the number of people with the disease and reduce the number of people who will need to go to the hospital.
What the States is doing and what you should do
Some of the social distancing measure that have been put in place throughout Louisiana include:
Calling for the closure of K-12 schools
Restricting non-essential visitors to nursing homes and health care facilities
Closing bars, casinos and movie theaters
Limiting restaurants to delivery, take out and drive-through only
Limiting the size of gatherings to fewer than 50 people
These community-wide measures are important, but individuals must also make some changes. Closing schools and restricting large events will not work if we simply find other places to congregate. We can’t stop going to class, or sending our kids to school, then head to the nearest mall or library. We can’t skip a parade but head to the nearest bar or party.
The single most important thing we can each do is to stay home when we are sick. And now that we have identified significant community spread in New Orleans and other places, we all need to stay home more … even if we aren’t sick. This is because young and health people can still spread the virus to others.
The experts say to keep six feet distance between yourself and others … no handshakes, no hugs.
Gov. Edwards and state health officials believe that if we all change our daily routines for the next month or so – and, yes, this will be hard – we will all be doing the things that will help end this outbreak.
About the Office of Public Health: The Louisiana Office of Public Health is leading the effort to end the coronavirus outbreak. The agency is made up of 1,100 professionals across Louisiana who are charged with protecting and promoting the health of the communities of our state. The agency operates in more than 63 parishes and is staffed with doctors, nurses, engineers, chemists, biologists, sanitarians, clinicians, and emergency preparedness experts.