By: Tara Kerrigan Hayes

The surge is coming. The word is out. So, why then, are the people?

The stats are everywhere and the outlook is grim. Despite the US death toll eclipsing China’s and continuing to rise at a staggering rate, it seems, for some, the severity of the situation is simply not sinking in.

New York infectious disease epidemiologist, John Smith, succinctly conveyed how an outbreak like the Coronavirus spreads exponentially, “if your son visits his girlfriend, and you later sneak over for coffee with a neighbor, your neighbor is now connected to the infected office worker that your son’s girlfriend’s mother shook hands with”.

Consider the power behind that fact, (and it is, indeed, a fact). Conversely, any break in that chain – breaks the disease transmission along the chain. To put it simply, the line has been drawn in the sand. You are either one of the people who builds a bridge that leads the virus directly to us all, or you are one of the people who obliterates the bridge and aids in keeping us safe.

If somehow the words don’t resonate, perhaps a visual might.

By now we’ve all seen the infamous footage of the Spring breakers crowding the beaches of Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. What not everyone has seen, however, is the visual presentation tracking the movement of thousands of those revelers returning home (via their mobile devices), and landing themselves all over the country. Using an analysis called Spider Monkey Query, Tectonix, geospatial data visualization platform (working with location company X-mode Social) plainly demonstrates the massive impact of just one of those beach gatherings, and how it can potentially spread the virus across our nation at an alarming rate:

It’s that same mentality of those beach goers that has frustrations rising over the lack of social distancing, even here in South Boston, where groups gathered along M Street beach last week, (albeit on a much smaller scale). One local resident says, “it’s disturbing to see these clusters of people gathering on the streets over coffee, storming castle island together, dragging cases of beer and chips into each other’s houses, like it’s one big party”.

If this is indicative of what we can expect as the weather improves, then the fear is that Governor Baker’s extended stay-at-home advisory will have fallen on too many deaf ears, and it would seem inevitable that mandatory action will be necessary, if common sense does not soon prevail.

Here in the states, we have the benefit of foresight, having observed where other countries failed, or made strides, and yet, in some ways, we are already too many steps behind. A relative and resident of Manchester, England reacted to the banned gatherings of more than 2 people by Prime Minister Johnson, saying, “I’m afraid we are now on the same trajectory as Italy, because we took action too late”.

So what can WE do here and now, to take preemptive measures aside from the obvious, (hand washing)?

If you haven’t already, start strict self-sequestering immediately. To be effective in a community, sequestering should be done simultaneously, (staggering the stopwatch is as futile as it is unfair).

Dismiss permission to gather with up to 10 people, (it only takes one infected person to expose the other 9).

Eradicate the belief that 6 feet of social distancing is enough. New research suggests a “safe” distance is around 27 feet. That number will likely change. Err on the side of caution and simply STAY HOME.

Limit your social interaction to your household members ONLY. This excludes family who live in another residence. This excludes outdoor social gatherings, (just because it feels safer outside, doesn’t mean it is).

Dispel the notion that this virus is only deadly for the elderly and those with compromised immune systems. No one is impervious. Quarantine yourself as if you are a carrier (because you might be).

Reject the defeatist perspective that “we are all going to get it anyway” as an excuse to stray from the current goal; to cut off the transmission route in order to buy time to advance development and implementation of vaccines and treatment drugs.

The unfortunate truth is this virus will thrive on the naivety or selfishness of those being socially irresponsible, and there are already innocent people dying on the front lines. If that terminology is reminiscent of being at war, it’s because we essentially are, and each of us are either Team Virus, or Team Humanity, directly determined by our actions.

Yes, these will be trying times. Yes, isolation is difficult, and the prospect of loneliness can be overwhelming. But the irony is that by enduring it together, we are actually more connected to each other, and to the world, than ever before.

Please help us help each other, and hold the line. By STAYING HOME.