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Physical Distancing and Stopping the Spread

Physical distancing is a public health practice that aims to prevent sick people from coming in close contact with healthy people in order to reduce opportunities for disease transmission. It can include large-scale measures like canceling group events or closing public spaces, as well as individual decisions such as avoiding crowds.

With COVID-19, the goal of physical distancing right now is to slow down the outbreak in order to reduce the chance of infection among high-risk populations and to reduce the burden on health care systems and workers. Experts describe this as "flattening the curve," which generally refers to the potential success of social distancing measures to prevent surges in illness that could overwhelm health care systems.

How do I practice physical or social distancing?

The CDC defines social distancing as it applies to COVID-19 as "remaining out of congregrated settings, avoiding mass gatherings, and maintaining distance (approximately 6 feet or 2 meters) from others when possible."

It's particularly important—and perhaps obvious—to maintain that same 6-foot distance from anyone who is demonstrating signs of illness, including coughing, sneezing, or fever.