It seems we have that six-feet apart figure solidified in our brains as the distance that will keep us safe from COVID-19.  Back away, according to Dr. Stephanie Hartman.  Dr. Hartman is a 1995 graduate of Monroe City High School.  Today she is a specialist in Internal Medicine at the University of Nebraska Medical Center. She's also an assistant professor at the University.  Dr. Hartman has used her social media platform to share essential information in a candid, heartfelt way.

In the following post written by Stephanie Hartman, M.D. Internal Medicine, she shares the hard truth about what it truly means to effectively practice social isolation.  Dr. Hartman's comments are hers as a mother and a friend and not as a representative of the hospital.

"First, you are not STUCK at home.  You are SAFER at home.  Your family and children are SAFER.  Those who are elderly or have other chronic health conditions are SAFER if you are home.  (I realize this is not true for all children and hope we can create meaningful solutions for those children who are in danger because we have asked them to stay in their home with adults who abuse or neglect them.)

On the 6 foot recommendation - this is the average distance that large droplets can be carried from a cough.  A sneeze on the other hand can go up to 18 feet.  Exhalation while playing a sport with a bunch of your friends or laughing forcefully all can project droplets easily 6 feet.  This does not take into consideration aerosolized secretions that can "float" through the air.  So, before you go get a measuring tape out so you can sit 6 feet away from your friend to chat in person for a few hours, remember that you are playing the odds.  Individuals with little to no symptoms can shed the virus from their nose and mouth and if you have been sitting only 6 feet away from them for a sustained amount of time you may be walking away with some of their spit.  The 6 foot recommendation is because this is the recommendation for those you are going to encounter in your ESSENTIAL interactions with people during this pandemic.  Essential things like - give someone you are walking past in the grocery store a bit of space and then go home.  These ESSENTIAL interactions would be things that last for less than 10 minutes.

This is the same for the recommendation for the less than 10 people gathering.  This is for ESSENTIAL gatherings.  Not for a basketball game with friends today and then getting together with 10 different friends for a BBQ the next night. This is IF you must be in a WORK or ESSENTIAL situation then try to limit the number of people to less than 10 in that group and give everyone their 6 feet.  I don't think it is necessary to point out that if you are constantly switching out the group of 10 you are in that you have really continued to play that game associated with Kevin Bacon and no one wants to lose that guy to COVID19 or you after you have solidly linked yourself to someone with COVID19 that 2 people you don't know brought your way.  

The temptation to cheat this is REAL STRONG.  I get it.  It is exhausting.  If everyone takes a cheat - again, Kevin Bacon.  It is a slippery slope to create holes in your social distancing based in how you "feel".  I would urge you to find your way back to FACTS and STAY HOME with your people.  I know you may feel isolated and terrible at HOME and if this is the case please reach out to professionals for help because we ARE concerned about this.    

But WHY is this so important?  Why can't we just test everyone and put the people with +++ in isolation and go about our business.  WELL - we don't have enough tests.  I know - STILL.  Testing in most areas is limited by supplies and turn around time.  This will hopefully change, but while we are unable to approach the virus in this manner the way to slow things down is the STRICT SOCIAL DISTANCING.  The #flattenthecurve approach so we can continue to give the very BEST care to those who need hospital support for ANY health problem they need assistance with.  This flattening of the curve also allows your healthcare facility to extend the personal protective equipment #GETMEPPE they have and allow time for manufactures to ramp up.  If we don't have protective equipment then we are at risk of joining the sick and thus decreasing your healthcare resources as well.  This time also allows times for clinical trials to take place identifying options for treatment and a vaccine.  Researchers all over the world are working at lightening speed on these options, but in order for good science to take place we need to buy the time.  

PLEASE - STAY HOME.  PLEASE - create a safety network that respects social distancing recommendations for those around you who are vulnerable.  PLEASE - continue to pressure those leading your community to provide your community with transparent information."