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Thursday April 9th 2020

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Physical Distance While Still Connecting

Adapting to (COVID-19)

By HARRY LEED, Phillips Neighborhood Clinic

A policy of “social distancing” has been implemented by schools, universities, businesses, and the state. Social Distancing, however, is a poor term; we need Physical Distancing.

Viruses and bacteria can travel in droplets, particles that can move through the air up to 6 feet or (sometimes) even farther. Scientists talk about a “chain” of infection. Any break in the “chain” can keep disease from spreading. That is why people are asked to avoid touching their faces and to stay away from others when feeling sick. In other words, maintain good hygiene and keep at arm’s length from other people when reasonably possible.

We do not want this to end our social lives, however. We talk about too little about the role of mental health in relation to physical health. Stress hurts your immune system, which is the heavy hitter when it comes to defense against disease. It may seem hard not to be stressed by a situation in which you find yourself, but you can try to think of relaxation as something you can do actively to boost your health. Think of relaxation and positive thoughts as a kind of medicine that can reinforce your physical wellbeing. Meditate, call a friend for a good laugh, or smile. It might seem kind of silly, but striving towards a good attitude will strengthen every aspect of your life, even if you feel crummy.

Diseases do not discriminate, and neither should we. Be available for emotional support to your friends, family, and greater community. If you do not feel safe visiting someone at home, you may make a phone call to them, write a postal note to them, or write an e-mail to them. Support each other emotionally. It might be the best medicine we have.

Harry Leeds is a nursing student at the University of Minnesota and nursing clinician at the Phillips Neighborhood Clinic (PNC) 2742 15th Ave. So. As the PNC is primarily coordinated by students, the clinic will remain closed until at least April 1st. Please see http://phillipsneighborhoodclinic.com/ for up-to-date information. Other community clinics including Community-University Health Care Center (CUHCC) 2001 Bloomington Av., People’s Center 425 20th Av. So., and Southside Medical and Behavioral Health 324 E. 35th St., M Health Fairview—Smiley’s Point 2020 E. 28th St. are alternative options for PNC patients during this time and offer services on free or sliding scale.

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