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The Scrubs Scene That Explains The Importance Of Social Distancing

The global outbreak of COVID-19 has brought with it a rash of uncertainty, restrictions, and even new rules for social interactions. The World Health Organization has offered plenty of advice for people during this uncertain time, and one of the more important measures — aside from stringent hand-washing, of course — is to practice social distancing, something the introverts among us have been waiting all their lives to do. Social distancing includes the avoidance of things like hand-shaking and hugging, and the maintenance of at least six feet between yourself and other people. There's even a request for people to confine themselves to their homes as much as possible and avoid busy public places. While some may not be convinced these extreme measures are necessary, the spread of the coronavirus is continuing through human contact — and contact in particular with the germs cause the deadly virus.

Fortunately for skeptics, there's a scene from the popular medical series Scrubs that explains exactly why these practices are so important, especially for the elderly and those with underlying health conditions, who are most vulernable to the illness.

The scene in question comes from the season 5 episode entitled "My Cabbage," in which the use of a digital green glow shows the transference of germs that ultimately end up killing an elderly patient who was being discharged from the hospital after winning a lengthy battle for her health. In the case of the Scrubs episode, it was a single sneeze that sparked the transmission. The germs from the sneeze made their way all around the hospital — from the sneezer to a doctor to a nurse and beyond — before infecting the elderly woman.

A perfect explanation for the spread of the infection

In the Scrubs scene, Dr. Kelso (Ken Jenkins) explains to the Janitor (Neil Flynn) that he needs to keep the hospital clean because of how quickly infection is able to spread in that environment. To illustrate, the scene cuts to a mother blowing her son's nose with a tissue after he's sneezed. As a result, the tissue glows green; then, her hand glows, showing that she's picked up the germs. She shakes the hand of a doctor to thank him, and so his hand takes on the ghostly green glow as well. A nurse is the next person to have her hand turn green after accidentally bumping into the doctor, before touching another patient on the shoulder and spreading it further. Dr. Kelso gives an iconic line to end his speech: "And just like that, you have a patient in trouble."

Eventually, the illustrated green glow ends up on a glove on the floor, where an intern picks it up to throw it away before shaking the elderly patient's hand. As he leaves the room, she can be seen touching her other hand, and then clasping her hands over her mouth, letting the green spread across her whole body. There is zero malice in the young man's actions, but his polite gesture in shaking her hand ended up costing the woman her life.

In this Scrubs clip, most of the people who are pictured with glowing green limbs would recover from an infection without too much inconvenience, but they are vessels for spreading it around to someone whose body doesn't have the capability to fight it. This is precisely the danger with COVID-19: elderly and immunocompromised people are more at risk from dying from the illness than young and otherwise healthy people. With COVID-19 already displaying a rapid spread on a worldwide scale, it's up to everyone to do as much as possible to prevent the virus from continuing on its destructive path.