Health officials urge Minnesotans to practice safe social distancing

Doctors and other health experts want everyone to give each other at least six feet of space, a practice that’s become known as "social distancing."

Experts say this can help slow the spread of coronavirus and protect vulnerable populations, such as the elderly and those with compromised immune systems.

"I was diagnosed in June 2019 with triple-negative breast cancer," said Charissa Bates, a mother of three in Woodbury.

Bates has been practicing social distancing with her family since before the COVID-19 outbreak. Her immunity is down due to aggressive chemotherapy. Now, she hopes other people will heed the warnings from health experts and stay home to help at-risk groups like herself.

"It would be very hard for me to fight pneumonia right now and it’s really scary for us," Bates explained. "We are terrified."

5 EYEWITNESS NEWS also spoke with Ben Gorecki, a young man who is self-isolating in St. Paul with a few weeks worth of supplies.

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"I have a rare autoimmune disease," Gorecki said. "I am in the highest risk group other than age."

Minnesota Department of Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm has been urging the public to immediately participate in social distancing as a means of protecting those who are immunocompromised.

"For some populations, it’s quite a bit more severe and has the potential to be fatal," Malcolm said in a recent news conference.

"I feel like a lot of people are just being unaware or oblivious to all the people that are affected by this and unaware that this could spread to people that they really care about," Gorecki said.

Both Gorecki and Bates said they have watched people continue to gather in large groups and they are putting out a plea for that to change.

"Just please stay home," Gorecki said.

Bates added, "I’ve been in tears so much about people just sacrificing themselves right now for a couple weeks so I can be with my kids hopefully several years down the lane."