Chicago epidemiologist shares how she's widening her family's social circle amid COVID-19 pandemic

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Social distancing is apparently helping in the fight against COVID-19. As Illinois enters a new reopening phase this week, people are being reminded to keep a safe distance from others.

RELATED: Gov. JB Pritzker reveals plan to reopen Illinois schools

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Gov. JB Pritzker laid out his guidelines to reopen Illinois schools on Tuesday.

Amid the pandemic, people around Chicago are making choices daily about safety for themselves and their families as things open up.

An expert from Northwestern University's Feinberg School of Medicine explained how uncomfortable conversations can help save lives as people widen their social circles.

"This pandemic is not going to go away overnight and we have to find new ways of living with the pandemic so that we can continue on with what we need to do in our society," epidemiologist Mercedes Carnethon said.

RELATED: Illinois Reopening: Chicago to move into Phase 4 Friday, Mayor Lightfoot says

Carnethon is practicing widening her circle in her personal life. Her family and several others have recently allowed their children to play together after having what can be uncomfortable conversations with parents about mask-wearing philosophy and if they are attending any large public gatherings.

"The discomfort is worthwhile because these are your lives that you are talking about," Carnethon said.
"We have been in a fortunate situation in that our neighbors and friends seem to take the pandemic very seriously."

She noted that children have been quick to adjust to wearing a face covering.

"The younger ones are getting used to it," Carnethon said. "I have been impressed with how adaptable kids are to wearing masks. This is part of their routine. They ask where are their masks, and they even say to us, 'You went outside without your mask on.'"

Carnethon said how families practice safe social distancing now will help reduce spread of disease in the fall when some schools may reopen and we head into the annual flu season.

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