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Social distancing vs. quarantine: what you need to know and what you should do

Roswell Park's Director of Infection Control and Prevention tells 2 On Your Side social distancing is likely something you've done before.

BUFFALO, N.Y. — The words "social distancing" and "quarantine" are filling the airwaves, our conversations, and making a lot of people ask the question, what do these situations actually look like?

2 On Your Side's Michael Wooten sat down with Roswell Park's Director of Infection Control and Prevention, Dr. Katherine Mullin, to hear what social distancing and quarantine actually look like.

As it turns out, you may have already done social distancing before without realizing it. 

"If you have or have been around a new baby, you know that people partake in social distancing," Mullin said. "You still have to get to the grocery store, but maybe you go late at night when you're not going to be standing in a really long line, exposing yourself to a lot of different people.

"You also make sure that anyone who is around you, you know them, you know that they are well."

The social distancing people should be taking part in, Mullin says, is very similar to what you do if you have a new baby at home. It's about being conscious of when and where you're going, who you're around, and building a community of trust.

People should be consider how they are feeling before they are going out, and if they are feeling unwell, they should postpone plans to avoid passing anything to others.

People can still go shopping when they need to, and they can still go out to eat when they're hungry.

It's not about putting life at a standstill. It's about taking into consideration who you're being around and also how you're feeling when you go out. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention defines social distancing as "remaining out of congregate settings, avoiding mass gatherings, and maintaining distance (approximately 6 feet or 2 meters) from others when possible."

"It's just being smart about things," Mullin said. 

Mullin says for most people, who are not sick and have not been exposed to a potential or confirmed case, social distancing is really a way to reduce the general risk of getting the virus.

Quarantine, on the other hand, is isolating yourself in your home or a room in your house. This is typically for people who may have been exposed to the virus, or are suspected or confirmed cases. 

"You're in your house, you're not leaving your house, you're only interacting with household contacts because you want to prevent spread completely, er, of anything outside of your house. You would use quarantine if you had a suspected or confirmed illness," Mullin said. 

2 On Your Side continues to cover the coronavirus pandemic with a focus on facts, not fear, and we are here to keep you updated on what you need to know. You can download our app here to receive push alerts about the latest updates, follow us on social media and check back anytime at WGRZ.com

For more information on COVID-19, social distancing and quarantine, check out these videos from our TEGNA partner stations KYTX and KARE.

What are the symptoms of COVID-19 and what is social distancing?

What does self-quarantine mean for suspected or confirmed cases ?

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