Confused About “Shelter in Place”? Read This.

A doctor explains the current coronavirus advice once more, for the people in the back

Dr Jeff Livingston
Published in
7 min readMar 24, 2020


An older female resident at The Leonard Florence Center for Living looks outside her window.
Photo: Erin Clark/Boston Globe/Getty Images

SStay at home and shelter in place. These are our instructions. Dr. Anthony Fauci from the NIH has advised us to stay at home. California Governor Gavin Newsom and New York Governor Andrew Cuomo ordered residents to shelter in place. Connecticut and Illinois have followed suit. My city, Dallas, announced it yesterday. Other places will likely soon follow. Do Americans understand what it means to practice social distancing and to shelter in place?

I am a doctor. I had to Google it.

Staying at home is crucial

Coronavirus is a new virus. This means the human race has never been exposed. We have no baseline immunity or protective antibodies. We do not have a vaccine or effective medication to treat it. We are all susceptible to becoming sick with Covid-19.

The most effective intervention against the epidemic is to prevent transmission to each other. Two key steps are critical to our success: case detection and prevention.

Case detection is the responsibility of the government.

Prevention is up to us.

Stay at home.

How is Covid-19 spread?

Covid-19 is spread through person-to-person contact via respiratory droplets. Droplets first spread through coughing, sneezing, and respiratory particles. These particles get on our clothes and hands. We then pass the virus through handshakes, hugging, kissing, and other close human contact.

To make it simple, you stay at home unless there is an essential reason to be out.

The virus also survives on surfaces, making every item we touch a potential vector for transmission. This includes doorknobs, cell phones, boxes, papers, computer keyboards, and more.

Each one of us and every item we touch is a potential transmission source. Evidence now reveals people are highly infectious before they begin to show symptoms. To protect ourselves and each other, we must limit close contact with others.



Dr Jeff Livingston

Obgyn, Husband, Father, & Entrepreneur. Writing about Women’s Health, Parenting, and Self-improvement. CEO of & founder of