Californians practice social distancing to slow spread of COVID-19

Social distancing practices are also being used at Eskaton


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March 24, 2020

It’s the fourth day of California’s stay-at-home order, yet many people are still going to work or mingling in public despite the mandate.

Getting outside to exercise is one of the few ways to relieve stress from worries about COVID-19. Some people do it alone, while others walk or jog in groups. Dr. Katren Tyler, an emergency room doctor at UC Davis Medical Center in Sacramento, said this is cause for concern.

“The more people that are in an environment — even outdoors – you’re still going to increase the chance that you’re going to get touching of a surface where a virus might still be alive,” Tyler said.

Door handles and any other shared touching spaces can put you at risk, Tyler said. Those particles can live for hours on some outdoor surfaces.

That’s why washing your hands, personal hygiene and being selective with your walking companions is highly encouraged.

Tyler said household members can be outside together and the 6 feet rule does not apply to them because they live together.

In Sacramento, the county jail is closed to family visitors. While there are no confirmed coronavirus cases in the jail, Sheriff Scott Jones said he has already launched other precautions, such as releasing non-serious and non-violent people up to 11 days early.

Jones said deputies are well-supplied with protective gear to shield them from the virus.

“We have gowns; we have masks; we have gloves — enough for the officers,” Jones said. “Now, each one has to report how much personal protective equipment they have used each shift.”

Social distancing practices are also being used at Eskaton Village, a senior care center in Carmichael. Volunteers and staffers are reaching out on the phone, contacting seniors who are isolated at home because of a ban on visitors.

The phone staffers are stationed in cubicles at least 6 feet apart, doing what Eskaton administrators call telephone reassurance.

“Number one is social isolation and mitigating loneliness,” Sheri Peifer, Esktaton’s Strategy Officer said. “Telephone reassurance, we have a cadre or amazing volunteers and we call every older adult in their own homes 365 days a year.”

The Sacramento Natural Foods Co-Op grocery store initiated a new policy that limits how many people can enter the store at one time to maintain social distancing.

However, there are a number of non-essential businesses continuing to operate as usual despite the stay-at-home order. Jones said there are a lot of calls reporting neighbors and businesses for not following social distancing.

“I will say there is a hammer out there,” Jones said. “There is an enforcement piece to this order. I don’t ever want to use it.”

For now, Jones said the law enforcement mission is education, not enforcement, but if things become worse, there could be citations and fines for repeat violators.

“It could be money out of their pocket, which will motivate most people to comply with the order, but it also could be a misdemeanor,” Jones said.  View video.

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