According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the novel coronavirus, which causes the disease COVID-19, spreads from person to person. The World Health Organization reported it is spread through tiny droplets from the nose or mouth when a person exhales or coughs. When the droplets land on surfaces, and someone else touches them before grazing their nose, eyes or mouth, they can become infected. People can also catch COVID-19 if they breathe in the droplets of an infected person who breathed out or coughed.
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WHO recommends people stay at least 3 feet away from one another. The CDC has encouraged social distancing, which it defines as — aside from avoiding big gatherings — maintaining a distance of at least 6 feet from another person. It also means avoiding prolonged contact with others.
"This is not the time to have friends over," Dr. Thomas Chin-Chia Tsai, a surgeon and health policy researcher at Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, both in Boston, told the Guardian. "We are learning that Covid-19 transmission can happen through asymptomatic carriers. The goal is to decrease the probability of transmissions, and anything to decrease that — such as not having friends over — is needed. It's hard and it's against the basic human instinct, but it's what's needed now."
Although you can't see your friends in person, there are some ways around that. Connecting on video chats is one way, and people have discovered a way to watch Netflix titles together while maintaining distance.
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There also may be a sliver of hope for people eager for an in-person interaction with pals.
Thomas Jaenisch, Ph.D., an infectious disease epidemiologist and associate professor at the Colorado School of Public Health, told Healthline that people can have friends over for game night as long as they're part of their inner circle and never interact with people outside the circle.
However, Jaenisch cautioned that while recommendations of maintaining a 3- to 6-foot distance from others is fine for a minute or so, it’s not the same if you’re in the same space for a while.
“If you’re in a closed room and have a meeting for an hour, that’s a different story,” Jaenisch said, adding that it should be avoided.