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When & How to Practice Social Distancing
If someone’s sick with something like a cold or the flu—illnesses that can pass through droplets from coughs or sneezes; survive on frequently touched surfaces; and transmit through touching the eyes, nose, or mouth with dirty hands—that is the time to practice social distancing through these simple steps:1
- Keep at least a 6-foot distance between yourself and others
- Do not gather with anyone with whom you don’t live
- Avoid large gatherings of people
Learn more about the common ways cold and flu spreads and what else can be done to prevent catching or spreading them.
How Long Should You Social Distance?
How long you should practice keeping your distance in social situations (or avoiding them altogether) depends on how long you are contagious (or how long the person from whom you’re distancing is contagious). For cold and flu, these periods are generally as follows:2
- Cold: 1 to 2 days before symptoms until all symptoms clear up
- Flu: 1 day before symptoms until 7 days after feeling sick
Social distancing can help keep colds from moving from colleague to colleague around the office and slow the spread of the flu during flu season.
1. Social Distancing, Quarantine, and Isolation. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/social-distancing.html. Accessed 4/9/2020.
2. Am I Still Contagious? Cedars Sinai. https://www.cedars-sinai.org/blog/am-i-still-contagious.html. Accessed 4/9/2020.