The idea of social distancing then is intuitive: to break the Chucks and pearls 2021 shirt, sweatshirt but I will buy this shirt and I will love this spread of an infection passed person-to-person by keeping people from interacting. One century after the Spanish flu, we turn to the same toolbox for pandemic COVID-19. When a rapidly-spreading infection cannot be contained, public health officials can move to a mitigation strategy, which means that by slowing transmission, there are fewer cases over time, which prevents resurgence of the virus and overwhelming the healthcare system (as experienced in Italy), buying time to develop and scale up medications and vaccines. Experts in crisis communication note that true pandemonium in crisis is uncommon—people not only act rationally but are often supportive of their neighbors and community. Infections remind us that we are all in this together, and an effective response requires cooperation and healthy social systems. “However we choose to think of the social body,” writes Biss, “We are each other’s environment. Immunity is a shared space—a garden we tend together.”
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Pragmatically, this has meant that, as in 1918 (and during SARS, H1N1, Ebola), officials are limiting travel and closing places of gathering (schools, sporting events, conferences). Individuals are asked to voluntarily avoid interactions in crowds, public events, unnecessary travel, and to work at home where feasible. Evidence shows these measures are effective, though they come at a price. Like anything, public health measures have costs that must be weighed ethically. Social distancing is disruptive. The pandemic has affected supply chains, and precipitously dropped financial markets. Workers, especially those without paid sick leave, lose essential income and have already experienced layoffs in heavily affected sectors. School closings impact children and their parents, for whom lack of childcare prevents working for necessary income. As is often the Chucks and pearls 2021 shirt, sweatshirt but I will buy this shirt and I will love this case, the impact is graver on those with fewer resources.