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By Jessica Zang

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About this blog: I’m Jessica Zang, a Palo Alto-born, slightly cynical Gunn High School student who’s passionate about linking high school life to the bigger picture. What’s really going on in our high schools in Palo Alto? Everything a high ...  (More)

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Coronavirus: Why aren't some people social distancing?

Uploaded: Apr 17, 2020
With coronavirus invading not only the immune systems of people around the world but also our everyday lives, we all want it to go away and never come back. But in order for the spread to diminish, we need to practice some strict self control, in the form of washing hands, keeping clean, and most importantly, social distancing.

Humans are inherently social beings. Being cut off from coworkers, lovers, and friends can make shelter-in-place lonely and frustrating. However, in order for this disease to die out, we need to abide by the six-foot rule. The problem is, though, that people aren’t. High schoolers are still taking walks with friends, despite the federal government practically begging us to stay inside.

Some excuses people may use for their recklessness can be rooted down to coping mechanisms such as minimizing or denial. Downplaying a deadly threat allows people to maintain a sheer layer of calm when the world threatens to topple. Saying things like “it’s just another flu”, “most symptoms are mild”, and “ it only transmits to older people” become excuses for people to openly disobey laws meant to keep other people safe. These words morph into a false sense of security that has no place in a world where self control can save lives. Refraining from seeing friends and being close can truly make a difference. Even one lapse in judgement can lead to new cases. Behaviors like these not only prevent people from taking adequate precautionary measures but also put those at a higher risk for being infected by the virus in danger.

Yet despite the name, social distancing relates more to physical space than social divide. People can still stay connected to friends and coworkers despite not meeting up in person by texting, calling, or FaceTiming. These alternatives for in-person contact may not be as effective, but greatly reduce the sacrifice we must make to keep people safe. With these technologies, we can both maintain social interaction and avoid disastrous consequences. This time period apart may prove difficult, but we will emerge from it with a better appreciation for our loved ones, having been forced to be away from them for so long.

Failing to abide by carefully-set rules and recommendations presents a certain recklessness that voids all that has been done to protect other people. Even if some people don’t live with high-risk individuals, others do. With the asymptomatic and presymptomatic characteristics of coronavirus, simply feeling healthy is not enough. Transmission is easy and deadly silent, and our actions have consequences. One outing with a friend may lead to transmitting the virus to 3 more people, beginning a chain reaction that can only be stopped by respecting the distance. Not respecting social distancing means that more lives are lost. In a time where it matters most, everybody should be cautious and exert some necessary self control to do our part in limiting the spread of the virus and keeping our community safe. With everybody being aware of their actions, we can soon hope for freedom to see our friends again and a quicker return into our normal lives.
We need your support now more than ever. Can we count on you?

Comments

 +   4 people like this
Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood,
on Apr 17, 2020 at 3:44 pm

Bars? Are there bars open?

Socializing? You mention teens socializing by taking walks with friends. Really? Are they doing it with their parents' permission?

I have been out walking daily, sometimes on my own and sometimes with a family member from my household. I don't think I have seen anyone who appears to be socializing apart from family units and I have no idea where the bars might be for adults to meet up in. The only food I have eaten that has been cooked by someone outside the family unit has been from a bar which is closed but is doing curbside pick up at a time given when we ordered it.

I agree it is necessary. You are right that it is important. But I have not seen one incident of anyone flouting the no socializing rules. I am not saying that it isn't happening, I just have not come across it in my neighborhood, or from anyone who has claimed to have done it in my circle of family and friends.

If it is indeed happening, I would imagine it is not rampant. I have the greatest respect for everyone in Palo Alto because I think we are doing a fine job of social distancing with those we know as well as complete strangers we may encounter as we cross the street with a wave to avoid passing too close on the sidewalk.


 +   18 people like this
Posted by Liberate America!, a resident of Greenmeadow,
on Apr 17, 2020 at 3:50 pm

Most of what I see is quite respectful of social distancing. Remember, most times when you see a couple folks close together - they share living space.

Alas, when our *president tweets out that social distancing doesn't matter ("LIBERATE MICHIGAN!") some will make the mistake of believing he 'has a clue'. He doesn't.

Loved the essay, Jessica. You're a great edition to the blogs!


 +   5 people like this
Posted by Corona Drinker, a resident of another community,
on Apr 17, 2020 at 5:01 pm

Bars? There are bars that are open?!?

Which ones?!?

Please list them here, I will be happy to investigate their social distancing practices.

I do consider these establishments as "essential services."


 +   3 people like this
Posted by PA family, a resident of Evergreen Park,
on Apr 18, 2020 at 7:46 am

PA family is a registered user.

Hi Jessica, I think you're right that there are still teens getting together at the schools and Cubberly. Police were stationed yesterday at Greene, so I suspect they are keeping an eye on certain spots. The walking, though, may be because a lot of families in neighborhoods know each other. When our family goes out for walks, we often see other kids we know. We may say hello from a 10 foot distance but the kids know to stay far away. In the evening hours, the streets are packed. It's hard to have a sidewalk to yourself. Many families play ball in the middle of the road. Or bike in large groups. I think everyone is doing their best to social distance but it's tough when everyone is exercising between 4 and 7, and the Dish is closed.

Kids can't walk now between 9-3 because of required online learning and Zooms. So it is more likely they will all be exercising at the same time of day. I am curious about what you are hearing or seeing from kids you know? I know many girls who have not left the house for a month, except to walk around the block. Such a tough time!

Thanks for the blogging! Enjoy your posts.


 +   2 people like this
Posted by PA family, a resident of Evergreen Park,
on Apr 18, 2020 at 7:46 am

PA family is a registered user.

Hi Jessica, I think you're right that there are still teens getting together at the schools and Cubberly. Police were stationed yesterday at Greene, so I suspect they are keeping an eye on certain spots. The walking, though, may be because a lot of families in neighborhoods know each other. When our family goes out for walks, we often see other kids we know. We may say hello from a 10 foot distance but the kids know to stay far away. In the evening hours, the streets are packed. It's hard to have a sidewalk to yourself. Many families play ball in the middle of the road. Or bike in large groups. I think everyone is doing their best to social distance but it's tough when everyone is exercising between 4 and 7, and the Dish is closed.

Kids can't walk now between 9-3 because of required online learning and Zooms. So it is more likely they will all be exercising at the same time of day. I am curious about what you are hearing or seeing from kids you know? I know many girls who have not left the house for a month, except to walk around the block. Such a tough time!

Thanks for the blogging! Enjoy your posts.


 +   3 people like this
Posted by Jessica Zang, a Palo Alto Online blogger,
on Apr 18, 2020 at 12:19 pm

Jessica Zang is a registered user.

Hi all!

I've realized that I made a mistake when I was writing this blog. There are no bars open here, definitely not anymore. I was originally referring to time before shelter-in-place, when people were aware of the virus threat yet still congregated in big masses together. However, since it was unclear, I've deleted that example from the article. Sorry about that, and thank you for understanding!

Thanks,
Jessica Zang


 +   4 people like this
Posted by Shared Responsibility, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood,
on Apr 18, 2020 at 2:25 pm

I completely agree with you, Jessica.

I know several teens/young adults who are continuing to hang out with boy/girlfriends, despite the social distancing mandate, common sense, and ethical guidelines. While I can certainly sympathize with someone caught in the magic of a new romance, unable to spend time with his/her new love, all I have to do is think about the patients infected with Covid who are dying lonely and afraid in their hospital rooms, without being able to say good-bye to their family and loved ones. The choice is and should be clear to all of us.


 +   4 people like this
Posted by Arun, a resident of College Terrace,
on Apr 20, 2020 at 11:58 am

We went for a walk around Hanover Street last Tuesday evening and decided to take the Bol Park bike path towards Barron Park. Sadly, we came across numerous "covidiots" on the path who were walking nonchalantly two abreast, so we had to get all the way to the side, on to the dirt, to stay as far away as we could.

Not sure if they are just plain stupid or think that just because they are "healthy", they are "safe" to others.


 +   5 people like this
Posted by Observer, a resident of Greater Miranda,
on Apr 20, 2020 at 12:52 pm

The couples you see walking the Gunn-Bol Park path include lots of people, such as my husband and I, who are getting some essential exercise. We stay far from others, including going off the path to avoid them. Getting onto the "dirt" on that path is hardly a hardship. We wear masks whenever there are others on the path. Try to be a bit less judgemental. FYI The most risky people we see are families with children (who are entitled to be together outside as well as inside), but small ones on bicycles do NOT always remain at the prescribed distance. Fortunately, they pass quickly and represent a VERY small risk if it they were to be infected.


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