We strain to adjust to our new world of social distancing

People adhere to social distancing to protect against the spread of coronavirus as they wait to grocery shop at Trader Joe's in Cambridge on Sunday.
People adhere to social distancing to protect against the spread of coronavirus as they wait to grocery shop at Trader Joe's in Cambridge on Sunday.Jessica Rinaldi/Globe Staff

Her rallying cry: physical distancing, social solidarity

Joan Vennochi (“Confessions of a social distance resister,” Opinion, March 24) and the rest of us must adapt to massive disruptions in our daily lives because we face a threat to survival even greater than World War II. In “mobilizing” myself for this war, I prefer a rallying cry that more accurately reflects the current need: “Physical distancing, social solidarity.”

The dawning realization that we can protect ourselves only by protecting others has already produced a flowering of creative ways to support each other while complying with physical distancing. There is still a narrow window of opportunity to avoid unimaginable disaster. If we (very) rapidly pull together to cajole — and support — our skeptical and vulnerable neighborsand demand from reluctant legislators a comprehensive range of actions that directly protect people, then, in the words of World War II’s great icon, Rosie the Riveter, “We Can Do It!”

Arlene Ash



The writer is a professor at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, where she is chief of the division of biostatistics and health services research in the department of population and quantitative health sciences.

If ever there were a time for Boston’s notorious frostiness to thaw, this is it

I have walked in Newton every day for more than 35 years. Now there are many more people out walking. I am an elder, and I live alone. The only human-to-human contacts I have, other than those at the grocery store, are those I pass as I walk.

While I support wholeheartedly the 6-foot distancing rule as to how far apart we keep from one another, I do not feel that “social” distancing means you cannot smile at another or say hi or give a little wave. Yet in Newton, time and time again, I have experienced that lack of connection.

I had occasion to walk in Natick last week. There everyone connected (from afar) with those they passed.


Be mindful, folks, of isolated people like me who could use, and need, that acknowledgment. It makes my day.

Carol Siemering

West Newton

Not being a native Bostonian, I’ve always been a little taken aback by people’s refusal to acknowledge one another on the streets of our city. But now I think I understand. Seeing people, masked or not, out for brief distanced togetherness, and still ignoring one another, I think they must have grown up hearing that a smile can be contagious. They just didn’t realize it meant contagious in a good way.

Ellen Steinbaum


A tip for safer grocery shopping

Why aren’t the supermarkets using one-way aisles? This would help to maintain social distancing.

Chuck Swartz