PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD)– Central Illinoisans are taking full advantage of the spring-like temperatures Monday afternoon. From competing with friends in disc golf to walking with a partner, running, fishing or even riding a bike, people were soaking up the rays of sunshine. Some said it’s great to get outside during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It feels absolutely amazing,” said Jonas Elterich. “You know, the air in the house is getting kind of stale no matter how many windows you open, but just to get up and running finally…it feels really good. It definitely puts a lot of things into a deep perspective in how much we take for granted and how much of a value we put on those little things that we took for granted.”
People absorbed their daily dose of Vitamin D Monday all while trying to stay six feet apart from others.
“Do keep others in mind, of course, that’s the whole point of social distancing, but also keep your own mental and physical health in mind as well,” said Mackenzie Simmons. “People underestimate the value of just a couple of deep breaths of fresh air. Just be considerate, even if you are a healthy person, the elderly and those with compromised immune systems are really being affected at this time.”
Brady Sain said it beats being inside.
“Being cooped up inside watching TV all day is boring,” said Sain. “You go stir crazy. So, this gives us an opportunity to get out there and get a little exercise and see some sunshine. Mostly what I have been doing is going to the store, going home, and coming out walking. Enjoy the day. Get out while you can. You never know what’s going to happen tomorrow. I love the sunshine. It’s fun.”
On Sunday, President Trump did extend the social distancing recommendations until April 30th. Governor Pritzker said people are allowed outside, just maintain social distancing recommendations.
WHAT IS SOCIAL DISTANCING?
Social distancing is practices implemented by public health officials to keep contagious diseases from spreading.
The measures are aimed at trying to cut down the amount of virus spreading around, and ultimately protect those most vulnerable, including the elderly and people with weakened immune systems.
WHAT MEASURES HAVE BEEN TAKEN?
Governments have closed borders, and millions of workers and students have been ordered to stay home. On Monday, U.S. officials recommended that older people and those with underlying health conditions “stay home and away from other people.” The U.S. is also telling people not to gather in large groups.
And experts also recommend people try to stay at least 6 feet (about 2 meters) away from each other.
WHY 6 FEET?
Experts believe the virus is mainly spread through droplets that come out of your mouth and nose. When an infected person speaks or exhales or coughs or sneezes, the droplets travel about 3 to 6 feet (1 to 2 meters) before gravity pulls them to the ground.
“They fall pretty quickly,” said Dr. Jill Weatherhead, an infectious disease expert at the Baylor College of Medicine in Houston.
It’s important to try to block coughs or sneezes with a tissue or your sleeve, so as to not send those droplets flying directly toward someone nearby.
CAN I GO OUTSIDE AT ALL?
Yes, with some exceptions. And the guidelines vary based on where you live.
“We’re not being told to stay at home and lock the doors,” said Dr. Willam Schaffner, a Vanderbilt University infectious diseases expert. “We’re not there yet, and I don’t think we’ll get there.”
People who have coughs and sneezes should stay home as much as possible, and call ahead to the doctor’s office if they’re planning to get their illness checked out, he added.
People who have confirmed coronavirus illness should stay home, as should those who were in close contact with a confirmed case.
WHERE CAN I GO?
Options are becoming limited, with school, gym and restaurant closures in some places, and work-from-home edicts.
Officials in six San Francisco-area counties on Monday told nearly 7 million people to stay inside and venture out only for necessities.
If you live someplace without such restrictions, it’s best just to use good judgment. If restaurants are open, it’s OK to go to eat. But go in a small group and try to get a table away from others.
It’s necessary to buy food. But try to go to the supermarket at times when it’s less crowded, stay 6 feet away from other shoppers as much as you can, and wash your hands thoroughly when you get home.
WILL SOCIAL DISTANCING WORK?
It will be tricky to prove these measures made a difference.
Testing for the coronavirus was delayed in the U.S., but it is now starting to become more widely available. That means a lot of new cases may be diagnosed in the coming days, as labs finally find infections that happened weeks ago.
“We’re going to see increasing (case) numbers, and that’s going to be frustrating to people who are doing social distancing. But that doesn’t mean social distancing isn’t working,” Weatherhead said.