Liberal Arts‎ > ‎COVID-19‎ > ‎

COVID-19 language

I wish we had used better terminology during the COVID-19 pandemic.

What we standardized onWhat I wish we had standardized on 
Why
social distancingphysical distancing"Thanks for social distancing" ended up on sweatshirts of grocery store employees and signs, and to me that described the ennui we felt about not being able to see our friends and family as much. I wish we called it physical distancing to keep it a bit more neutral. While I understand the motive for it, I wonder how necessary it is when mask mandates (which I support) are in effect.
lockdownshutdownThis is probably more specific to Canada, which never had stay at home orders, i.e. where you couldn't leave farther than 500 meters than where you live, or risk a fine, like what happened in countries like Spain and Italy. Toronto "only" cancelled all large gatherings, and almost all indoor events, while private businesses asked their employees to work from home (not ordered to do so by the government. (There were scattered reports of fines doled out by bylaw officials for standing around at a part during the initial wave.)  It would have been a lockdown if the government had ordered working from home, but in North America, private enterprise took the initiative in that regard (Google, Microsoft, and the NBA in particular led the way).
quarantineself-isolationSome people used "quarantine" to describe the entire situation, in that we had to stay at home. Quarantine to me means something more drastic, almost like a sealed bubble like in the movie E.T. It was mostly meant to describe self-isolation, either intentional (staying at home and away from family members if possible) or unintentional, like those in "a bubble of one" to begin with.
stay at homeshelter in placeI'm partial to Americanisms, and "shelter in place" is one of my favourite ones, which I learned from the aftermath of the Boston Marathon bombings. It seems to have most notably applied to California. Either way, social media was full of "don't be a moron, stay at home!" when I would have preferred something like "it's OK to go for a walk, but keep to yourself". Around July of 2020, a few months into the pandemic, "stay at home!" seemed to dissipate because outdoor gatherings seemed to be somewhat safe.
spikesurgeI see a "spike" as a graph with an upward slope followed by a downward slope. People usually meant "cases are surging" and not "cases are spiking" when cases were on the rise.