When people in the United States first began to take the coronavirus outbreak seriously earlier this winter, many public health experts advised staying healthy by regularly washing your hands for at least 20 seconds. Within weeks, however, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared a pandemic, and President Donald Trump declared a national emergency. You probably know it's best to practice social distancing (avoiding close contact with others in public), but when it comes to seeing a handful of loved ones, the boundaries might feel less clear. If you're not quarantining with your partner, the idea of avoiding each other's company for the foreseeable future is probably heartbreaking. But according to health experts and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), staying apart is the only way to reduce the risk of getting yourselves and others sick.
The virus is primarily transmitted through respiratory droplets, as Vincent Racaniello, Ph.D., a professor of microbiology and immunology at Columbia University, previously told Elite Daily. Those are the "droplets you make when you breathe and talk and sneeze and cough — but you don’t have to be sneezing and coughing." These droplets can travel up to 6 feet, which is why the CDC recommends people maintain at least 6 feet of distance from each other, even if you don't feel sick.
"Eighty percent of the infections are mild, you wouldn’t even seek medical help, you wouldn’t know to quarantine yourself," Racaniello said, "so that is a problem and that’s what's driving the spread of this virus."
Even if you have no symptoms (which include a fever, cough, and shortness of breath), you could still be putting others at risk of getting sick. "There is good evidence to suggest that people with no symptoms can transmit the virus," Karen Levy, Ph.D., MPH, an environmental microbiologist and epidemiologist and associate professor of environmental health at Emory University's Rollins School of Public Health, previously told Elite Daily. "And in fact, that they might be the most infectious in the period before symptoms appear."
There's no vaccine for the coronavirus yet, so "social distancing, quarantining, and isolating people are the only measures against the virus we have," Peter Palese, Ph.D., chair of the Microbiology Department at Mt Sinai's Icahn School of Medicine, previously explained.
In order to keep yourself and others safe, you should stay at home and avoid non-essential contact with people outside your household. Unfortunately, that means unless you live with your partner, it's safest to stay apart for now. While that can be a devastating prospect, know you're certainly not alone.
Daniela, 22, tells Elite Daily she and her boyfriend aren't seeing each other in-person while in quarantine because they care about public health. "Since we would have to travel to see each other, there would be too many unknown variables between point A and point B," she explains, adding she doesn't want to risk driving or taking a train. "Even if we just left our houses to see each other, we would have to account for each person we were in contact with and each person they were in contact with. So for the time being, we're sticking to FaceTime and texting."
For the foreseeable future, stay close with your significant other through FaceTime dates and get crafty with your sexting game. Absence makes the heart grow fonder, and eventually, you'll be back together with the one you love.
If you think you’re showing symptoms of coronavirus, which include fever, shortness of breath, and cough, call your doctor before going to get tested. If you’re anxious about the virus’s spread in your community, visit the CDC for up-to-date information and resources, or seek out mental health support. You can find all Elite Daily's coverage of coronavirus here.
Vincent Racaniello, Ph.D., Higgins Professor of Microbiology and Immunology at the Columbia University Irving Medical Center
Karen Levy, Ph.D., MPH, associate professor of environmental health at Emory University's Rollins School of Public Health
Peter Palese, Ph.D., Horace W. Goldsmith Professor and chair of the Microbiology Department at Mt. Sinai's Icahn School of Medicine