Practicing Social Distancing


NOTE: This article contains no rumors or unfounded claims. 
Hey! We’re doing this coronavirus thing now apparently. If we listen to public health authorities that means practicing “social distancing”.

Social distancing, in the most basic and immediate sense means staying away from other people.  It means limiting how much you travel and how much you socialize face to face. When it’s necessary to go out for whatever reason, social distancing means keeping a set distance away from other people.

In the CDC’s own words:

Social distancing means remaining out of congregate settings, avoiding mass gatherings, and maintaining distance (approximately 6 feet or 2 meters) from others when possible.

How far do you need to distance yourself from other people? 6 feet. That’s a minimum distance. It’s not a “recommendation” or a “guideline”. These are clear directions. If you follow them the spread of the disease will be slowed. Japan and South Korea have been able to keep the spread of SARS-Cov2, the CDC’s new designation for this coronavirus strain impacting us in the USA, tenfold less fatal than in Italy by expecting everyone to practice social distancing whether they’re in contact with people who are infected or not.

This is the dynamic sphere of Akido. It’s not “6 feet away from a person”. As far as social distancing is concerned, the outside of the dynamic sphere is where the measurement begins. 6 feet past the dynamic sphere is the “social distancing sphere”. The outer sphere around the surfer is only about 3 feet away from his dynamic sphere. Social distancing’s defensive sphere extends out twice as far as the outermost sphere in the featured image.

In martial arts there’s this concept of a “dynamic sphere”. It’s the area that you exist within, essentially the distance that you can extend your arms and legs.  Outside of that there’s a concept of a “defensive sphere” or area where your awareness should be raised if there’s another person within it. It’s useful to envision your own “defensive sphere” and keep people out of it. Here’s some examples of you doing that:

  • Don’t walk down the same shopping aisles someone else is already in.
  • Don’t pass other people in doorways.
  • Don’t ride on public transportation.
  • Don’t ride in Uber or Lyft vehicles or cabs.
  • Don’t attend classes.
  • Don’t go to public meetings.
  • Don’t wait in lines.

This seems pretty extreme, huh? But how else are you going to follow the advice to practice social distancing? 6 feet is 6 feet.

The CDC’s “Table 2” on this “Interim Guidance” says that people who are low risk and not in contact with people known to be infected DON’T need to change their behavior and for those people social distancing is NOT listed as a recommended course of action. I disagree. I think, like South Korea and Japan it should be practiced by everyone. I am not alone in my disagreement.

State Colleges and our own City Government are also going beyond the CDC’s immediate recommendation. They have already put social distancing into effect officially by closing doors and cancelling events. I said back on the 8th how Closing ALL Florida Schools was prudent at that time.

Right now the only public services not erring on the side of caution and instead following the CDC’s guidance are Palm Beach County K-12 public schools.  Hopefully by the time you’ve read this that will have changed.( NOTE on 3/13/2020 2pm – Classes are cancelled in Palm Beach County Public Schools until March 27th – Announced on Twitter the District Site. )  I feel it’s the responsible thing to do, to follow the lead of colleges and municipalities, so I’m keeping my kids home until colleges start classes again.

This isn’t going to stop me from going out shopping, but it sure is going to slow me down. I’ve felt the need to behave this way anyway, carried my defensive sphere around with me like some unique burden for the past few decades after graduating from Florida Atlantic University with a B.S. in Microbiology. I’ve been freaked out by crowds and extremely anxious with my children in amusement parks. When kids are young enough for amusement parks to still be magical to them they’re also unfortunately magically attracted to touching every hand rail and putting their hands in their mouths. Bringing kids to a place where people from all geographies gather seems counter-intuitive when you look at it from a microbiological perspective.

Kids might not be able to “get it” in that there are so far almost no kids showing symptoms and being diagnosed with it. We know too little about whether kids can carry it and pass it along. Nobody has studied that yet. We don’t know conclusively whether pets can carry it and transmit it to people either. As testing methods improve and the technicians who have access to complete testing materials become more proficient with producing reliable results we’ll know more. There’s so much information that’s certain to emerge in time, but until it does, erring on the side of caution, just being a little more aware can help us minimize our risks.

Life is a risk. Nobody is guaranteed a tomorrow. Spending today all freaked out, and getting frozen in fear, will waste the day. Threats to our peace will come and they will go. Equip yourself with behavior tactics like a defensive sphere and adjust where you go and what you do temporarily, for now.


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