Covid-19 Re-opening Reality

Wear a Mask? Don’t Wear a mask? Is six feet perfect protection? What are my risks? What’s the science to base all this on? We learn best from stories, and this “shoe-leather” epidemiology is a series of well researched, memorable stories of observed events to read, remember, internalize, and use as a guide.

A contra dance friend posted the link on Facebook with these words:

No flashy pictures, nothing humorous, no teasing headlines, just a tremendous amount of fact biased, good scientific information about the virus, its spread, hot spots and the hazard of indoor environments outside of your sequestered household. Written by  a Comparative Immunologist and Professor of Biology (specializing in Immunology) at [UMass] Dartmouth [MA].” 

The following is hands down the best summary article I’ve seen on how Covid-19 spreads, the best guide to what to avoid and what may be less important. Here’s the title:

The Risks – Know Them – Avoid Them

Here’s the link:

Key concepts:

This virus (like the flu) is (mostly) a respiratory pathogen.

Transmission depends on proximity, length of exposure, ventilation, and the activity one is engaged in. The article offers memorable and specific examples.

Be wary of lengthy exposure to others in indoor environments. The worst spreading events happen from people who don’t yet know they’re infected. You’d best assume that anyone with whom you spend time could be spreading virus and not know it.

Keep to the high ground,

P.S. Remember back in February and March when our federal government was telling us to socially distance, wash our hands, and compulsively clean surfaces? That wasn’t bad advice, but it came with the puzzling reassurance that you did not need to rush out and buy a mask. That seemed peculiar to me at the time. Why? SARS and MERS, both coronavirus-caused diseases, are respiratory pathogens. Influenza is a respiratory pathogen. In all those countries in east Asia everyone was wearing a mask already, as were travelers from east Asia. Why was our government so smugly suggesting masks weren’t necessary? Hmmm. The Trump administration, having downplayed the threat and ignored offers of domestic N-95 mask production (in their confidence that the “free market” is always the answer) was caught unprepared for the demand for masks from healthcare workers. We, the citizens, were told mask weren’t necessary to avoid a shortage, even though the risk was pretty clear even then. In other words, our own bumbling federal leadership lied to us.