NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — For more than a month, we have been advised to socially distance ourselves in order to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

But in a place like New York City, where so many of us live in close quarters, is it possible to truly socially distance yourselves?

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As the virus spread across the city, roommates Dana Calvey and Mirko Faienza knew they had to protect themselves. In mid-March, they sat down with their third roommate for a house meeting.

“We started to take more precautions,” Calvey told CBS2’s Kiran Dhillon on Monday.

“If one of us gets this, what are we going to do?” Faienza added.


Social distancing would be difficult in their cozy Harlem apartment, so instead they decided to greatly limit their exposure to the outside world.

“I prepared so many alcohol spray bottles … basically we’d spray things down,” Calvey said.

It came as a shock then that after one trip to the grocery store, Calvey and Faienza ended up sick.

“What was strange about it was that I’ve never felt like that before,” Calvey said.

“It was new. It was new. The symptoms were new,” Faienza added.

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Both believe they caught coronavirus and may have passed it along to each other. Still, they’re unsure how they could have prevented that, occupying such a tight living space.

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“We share the kitchen. We share the bathroom,” Faienza said.

CBS2’s Dr. Max Gomez said that in cramped quarters, like so many of us live in in New York City, social distancing can be challenging, especially since the virus is airborne. Still, he said there are ways to limit your risks.

“Wipe things down. Don’t share eating utensils, towels,” Gomez said.

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Gomez added while it’s not always comfortable, if you’re extremely worried about either catching on passing on the coronavirus, you can opt to wear a mask or gloves when you leave your bedroom and enter common areas, whether they be in your own unit or in your apartment building.

Experts also say alternating time in the apartment’s common areas might also be necessary.

Outside your unit, precautions are also necessary.

CORONAVIRUS: NY Health Dept. | NY Call 1-(888)-364-3065 | NYC Health Dept. | NYC Call 311, Text COVID to 692692 | NJ COVID-19 Info Hub | NJ Call 1-(800)-222-1222 or 211, Text NJCOVID to 898211 | CT Health Dept. | CT Call 211 | Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Apartment Guide’s Brian Carberry advises people to limit any time spent in laundry rooms or stairwells.

“If you do ride the elevator, try to bring a handkerchief, a napkin, hand sanitizer with you. Press buttons with your elbows if you can,” Carberry said.

The roommates agree. They’re urging others to take the virus seriously.

“It felt like we went to the grocery store once and we got it,” Calvey said.

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Both are now feeling better, but are just hoping their third roommate doesn’t also fall sick.