You Killed Grandma! Or Social Distancing 101

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I am sure most of you are either freaking out about the coronavirus or the opposite extreme of “It won’t happen to me because I am young and healthy”.*

The truth is that there is no need to freak out if precautions are taken by everyone; no matter your age, health, socioeconomic status, and beliefs. We already have 2 lab-confirmed COVID-19 cases in Berkeley, CA** caused by “community spread”, which means that there was no known exposure and no travel history. That is one thing that social distancing is designed to prevent. This collective social action is very powerful in slowing down the spread of disease.

Social distancing “flattens the curve” of the spread of the disease. This disease spreads exponentially – which means you infect 2 people, they each infect 2 people (4), etc., 6 degrees of separation later you have infected over 64 people, and you didn’t even feel sick. That is a problem. Because you will spread the virus for 3 days PRIOR to feeling any symptoms, AND you could spread the virus for 2 weeks or more and never be sick. That bit is scary.

Social distancing is about you staying healthy and keeping the community healthy. It is also about not overwhelming our hospitals with serious cases. There are only so many nurses, doctors, respirators, rooms, etc. available. There is a capacity limit. Do you want your grandmother denied treatment because a 40-year-old needs that respirator more? That is called triage, “a process in which a large group of patients is sorted so that care can be concentrated on those who are likely to survive”.

I am a dentist and I have a responsibility to my patients. I have canceled everything optional in my life, from my dance lessons to dental seminars, to my Hot Babes of Dentistry group, to dinners out with friends and movies because I have no control over what everyone else is doing, and who they have been exposed to. In this way, I can protect not only myself but everyone I come into contact with.

I feel that dental offices are among the safest places to be because we have already been treating every patient as if they are infected with HIV or Hep B. We have included the front office, patient bathroom, the reception room and all door handles into the facility in the disinfection process we use in the operatories. We rely on your good judgment in following the guidelines to keep us safe from infection too. Thank you.

Each of us has a moral responsibility to not only ourselves and our families, but to our communities and our country to practice social distancing. Now I will have time to clean out those pesky closets!