Yesterday, Toronto’s Medical Officer of Health Dr. de Villa, took the podium at the City’s daily COVID-19 update.
At one point, and for more than a full minute, she began to speak to the audience as if they were five-year-olds who didn’t understand that Play-Doh was not an appropriate snack.
“I want to be perfectly clear. Having your friends over for dinner or for coffee is not social distancing. Arranging playdates for your children is also not social distancing. Visiting friends or family in long-term homes or hospitals is not social distancing. Stopping at a grocery store to stock up after travel, including travel to the United States, is not social distancing.”
In other words, too many of you are not listening. You’re not getting it. You’re giving yourself a couple of interactions here, a quick community spread there. After all, you’re only human.
The stories and anecdotes seem endless right now. One friend’s parents thought they were self-isolating while on a hike with a group of 10 friends (all, I might add, in the most at-risk age category) because they weren’t “around anyone we don’t know”. Another tells of a cousin wanting to drop their kids off at her house because she has flu-like symptoms and needs a rest.
Help prevent the spread of #COVID19 by practicing #SocialDistancing. While you may not feel sick, we ask that you be mindful of those more vulnerable in our community & thank you for your efforts to keep everyone healthy. More info: https://t.co/ZFIuRwDgA9 pic.twitter.com/7QjBaVszgJ
— Toronto Public Health (@TOPublicHealth) March 17, 2020
Dr. de Villa was right to talk to us like we don’t understand. Like we’re idiots. Because, well, too many of us clearly don’t and are. And it could end up affecting so many who are trying their damnedest to separate themselves from the herd. Imagine spending all this time inside, helping to flatten the curve, doing your time, and then coming out and catching COVID-19 anyway because Kevin couldn’t keep himself away from a St. Paddy’s Day party or Meghan couldn’t help but hit up the club one last time before settling into two full weeks of selfies no one asked for.
But, I get it.
It’s really, really hard to stop seeing and relying on people. Humans are social creatures, you’re going nuts, etc. Fine, fine. But I’m pretty sure no one said pan-f*cking-demics were going to be easy. And as far as this one goes, “stay inside” seems like a request uniquely suited for the year 2020 to not only accommodate but one that it can literally make easier than any other time in history.
You can watch nearly any movie or TV show ever made across a variety of streaming platforms. You can work out at home (there are thousands of videos online that will show you how – no equipment necessary). You probably have some books somewhere – remember those? – that you’ve been meaning to read. You can video chat with friends anytime you need, ’cause you have something called the Internet, the single greatest source of both information and time-wasting in human history. You can order groceries and booze and weed directly your door. There is no end to your entertainment.
At a time when your social world has suddenly become so small, your global reach is also as boundless as it’s ever been.
Of course, I’m not speaking to those who are struggling. With rent, with jobs, with food, with shelter. They are all in very serious situations and in need of every support available.
But if you’re reading this and you’re not one of them – shut up, sit down, stay inside, and practice social distancing properly.
And, if all else fails, here’s some perspective to help you through the next few weeks:
Your grandparents were called to war. You’re being called to sit on your couch. You can do this. #QuarantineLife
— Sara Jefry (@SaraJefry) March 15, 2020