Amid Social Distancing, Neighbours Mobilise Over Facebook

Social media has fomented a lot of division, but people are using it to strengthen their communities against the coronavirus pandemic too.

A few weeks ago, David Perez’s brother handed him a package of face masks and warnings about a new coronavirus spreading around the United States. Perez had heard about Covid-19, the disease caused by the virus, but he wasn’t sure how serious it was, so he started doing some research. Online, he found startling reports, bizarre conspiracy theories, and a whole lot of questions about what people were supposed to do before the outbreak reached them.

The official line from the Centers for Disease Control is for people to wash their hands, cover their coughs, and avoid large gatherings. “Social distancing,” or the practice of self-isolating, has been understood as key to preventing community spread of the virus. Keeping people out of shared, public spaces could be the key to keeping the spread low enough to meet hospital capacity. That will be critical in the days and weeks ahead.

But that advice isn’t always easy to decipher. Should you still send your kid to school? Cancel a vacation months in advance? And while you’re home alone for the foreseeable future, what else are you supposed to do to make sure your community can survive?

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