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What is "social distancing" and can it help stop the spread of coronavirus?

Measures to stop the coronavirus spread
What the U.S. should do to stop the coronavirus spread 04:21

Coronavirus quarantines like the ones in China are likely not feasible in the U.S., according to a top health official. But "social distancing" measures could be effective in stopping the spread of the virus.

"I don't imagine that the degree of the draconian nature of what the Chinese did would ever be either feasible, applicable, doable or whatever you want to call it in the United States," Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told CBS News chief medical correspondent Dr. Jon LaPook for "60 Minutes." "The idea of social distancing — I mean, obviously that's something that will be seriously considered depending upon where we are in a particular region of the country." 

Social distancing, LaPook explained Monday on "CBS This Morning," is "trying to keep yourself away from other people, especially large crowds" at schools, work or events.

Washington Governor Jay Inslee said Sunday that his state, where the majority of fatal U.S. coronavirus cases have occurred, is considering measures including mandatory social distancing. The U.S. State Department on Sunday recommended Americans avoid cruises.

Corporations have to start thinking about whether they should be telling people to work from home and holding teleconferences, LaPook said.

He is advising his patients to use "common sense." Those who are more vulnerable to the virus, such as people with weakened immune systems, should avoid places like theaters where there are large numbers of people, he said.

LaPook said social distancing has worked in the past, including during the 1918 flu pandemic.

"Cities that did a lot of social distancing did better than those that didn't," he said.

He also reiterated the recommendation from other health experts to wash your hands.

"I was reading something that said in past epidemics, in past flu epidemics, washing your hands — I know it sounds so simple — it can make a huge difference. It can decrease the amount of deaths and infections dramatically," he said. 

Other than social distancing and washing hands, LaPook said another preventative measure is sleep. "We know that sleep improves your immune system," he said.

Dr. LaPook on how we can all help fight coronavirus 03:21
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