Social distancing is staying away from crowds or congregations of 10 or more people with the intent of minimizing transmission of infectious disease outbreaks.

What is social distancing and why is it important?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention defines social distancing as “remaining out of congregate settings, avoiding mass gatherings and maintaining distance — approximately 6 feet or 2 meters — from others when possible.”

Social distancing is recommended because medical professionals know that the virus that causes COVID-19 can travel at least 3 feet when coughed or sneezed and can live on surfaces for hours to days. Social distancing is critical to “flatten the curve.” More: To stop the spread of COVID-19, “flattening the curve” is critical.

Chart showing the effect social distancing can have on the number of COVID-19 cases.

“In slowing down the spread of disease by minimizing transmission opportunities through social distancing techniques, we aren’t overwhelming health systems as we are able to curb the spread of new infections,” explained Jeanne Marrazzo, M.D., director of the University of Alabama at Birmingham Division of Infectious Diseases.”

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