CuraFlo, an essential plumbing service, provides its customers with superior service while following best practices to limit the spread of COVID-19.

May 01, 2020


Quarantine, Isolation, Social Distancing… What’s Essential?

COVID-19 is now in every country and every continent except Antarctica, affecting millions of people. We have no immunity to the deadly virus. If we do nothing, a recent study by the Imperial College London predicts 2 million people will die in the United States and 40 million worldwide.1 Life as we know it and standard services have come to a standstill. We are left wondering, what’s essential?

The only defense we have at the moment is to limit the transmission until a vaccine is ready.  But how do we keep everyone apart and still allow for basic functioning of everyone’s lives?  Most countries have determined how much people should be separated based on the prevalence of the infection.

It all started in Wuhan, a city of 11 million, in December 2019. China’s drastic response was to quarantine the city starting the end of January 2020. Only a single person was allowed to go outside for food or medicine. That individual would then have to be sprayed by disinfectant on on departure and return. Closed businesses and streets monitored by armed guards and drones became the new norm. Trucks carrying all food brought into the city were disinfected on the way in, and more importantly, on the way out.  The economy and people’s everyday lives suffered tremendously, but the quarantine worked as the spread of COVID-19 decreased to less than 100 per day by end of March.

Now, other heavily affected countries are following China’s lead. At the end of March 2020, Italy, Spain, UK, New Zealand, India, France, and Poland have all instituted very restrictive country-wide quarantines. People can only to go out for food, medicine, and to some extent, exercise, once per day. Like China, the military and drones strictly enforce the quarantines. Anyone breaking quarantine in these countries is subject to hefty fines or jail. This is a last resort to stem the spread of the disease.2

Isolation, Social Distancing and Essential Services

In the United States and Canada, the balancing act has been to limit the harsh economic impacts of a quarantine while slowing the spread of the virus. The United States’ initial response was to treat the virus as something that would pass. Not until mid-March did the Trump administration introduce guidelines to reduce group size gatherings.3 

Canada’s response was to test suspected people early and isolate the sick for 14 days; the length of time the virus is communicable. Canada also instituted social distancing guidelines in early March 2020 to limit crowd gatherings, keep people a minimum of 6’ apart, and recognize personal hand hygiene as a leading cause of transmission of COVID-19.4 The goal was to keep the economy open as much as possible while limiting the impact of the virus.  So by mid-March, Canada focused on testing, isolating the sick, social distancing, and limiting business to essential service, while the USA was still looking at COVID-19 as a flu that would pass.5 The result is that the USA is now the epicenter of the virus with twice the infections of any other country in the world and 500% higher death rate than Canada.

Now the USA is moving more towards the Canadian response to limit the COVID-19 spread. In this action, it is important to define an Essential Service. Historically, ‘Essential Service’ was as a contract term to limit which workers could strike or withold services. Based on this definition, workers involved in health and safety such as hospital employees, firefighters, and police were essential services and prevented from striking. Under COVID-19, essential services have expanded to encompass those daily services essential to preserving life, health, public safety, and basic societal functioning. Included  in this list is plumbing as an essential service. British Columbia Canada, where CuraFlo’s head office is located, has list of essential services under COVID-19 listed here.6