My response was delayed because I had four days off work, so was doing lots around the house, playing with horses and not going online much.
My dad was worried about the deer in his neighborhood eating his garden, so my sister and I put up a tall fence for him yesterday. It was nice to see my parents and my mom made us dinner.
The horses have been doing well, with Hero shedding off his winter coat as peach fuzz, and Amore as piles that just keep coming. Every year it seems like she hides half the hair, because I don't think her coat looks that dense until it all starts coming off.
The bad news is that the horse boarding in the town we want to move to is not going to work out. The property which seemed so nice does not have running water, only a creek. That could be a real nightmare, hauling water every day.
I have zero expertise, but it does seem the hardest hit areas involve longer-term close contact. Subways in NYC for example. In NE Arizona, people live far apart - but families are close and spending time in close social settings seems - from what I have read - more common.
Sitting in a basketball arena for a game sounds high risk. Same with mass transportation or parties. But could the variation in how people view "personal space" be a cultural contributing factor? I'd guess
people in NYC would tolerate low personal space while someone in LA might want an extra couple of feet. Those of us in Arizona might want more, unless our subculture values closer contact.
Pure speculation. But it does seem the hotspots for the virus do involve people in enclosed areas for longer periods of time - a choir rehearsal versus walking past each other in a store.
PS: When I get back from a trip to town, I wash my hands up past the wrists & check my watch to ensure a minute of washing. I've taken to humming, "Like a surgeon, washing hands for the one millionth time....Like a suur-ur-ur-urgeon, like a surgeon."
I agree about the cultural factors contributing to infection rates. In my opinion, it's not as much related to being exposed over and over by multiple people. Rather, it's about the odds of being exposed to enough of the virus to infect you that go up astronomically in certain circumstances. Extended families that hug and kiss, or touch each other a lot are an example.
If people are standing next to you singing, the chances that they will spray a wet droplet (containing large amounts of virus) on your hand that you rub across your eyes or nose within the next hour or so are very high. More likely, one person has a nose that is running heavily, and they could be the culprit as they touch the music papers that you pass around "take one and pass it on" or shake hands in greeting. Or the choir director could sneeze while facing everyone and blast the virus into peoples' eyes, mouths and noses.
If this pandemic taught people how to wash their hands and an awareness of staying away from those coughing and sneezing around them, it could potentially decrease the spread of all infectious disease in the future. An interesting thought to me is that a deadly virus could end up saving lives in the future. Not to mention it has highlighted issues with hygiene in our food packing plants, with employees being treated as disposable and their health unimportant. It has made me realize our meat supply must be a lot cleaner than I gave it credit for, since the workers are not normally dying in droves from e-coli and such in those conditions.
As I understand it, the highest risk is through droplet infection, followed by aerosolised virus and touching your own mucous membranes with contaminated hands. I imagine wet kisses would rate pretty highly for transmission as well.
The distance from a person at which they can potentially send droplets and aerosol your way, I've seen studies citing up to 8 metres, which is a bit more than the prescribed distancing of 1.5 metres in Australia. I'd imagine that the closer you are to the sneezer / cougher, the more of a load you would potentially cop, and as you need a certain critical mass of virus in order to get infected (more than one particle, but exact amount would depend on person or situation), the risk would diminish as your distance increases. 1.5 metres is probably OK in most situations to reduce your risk, as long as you're just passing anyway, and especially if sick people are wearing masks (which I think should be mandatory, not just with COVID-19 but with any cold or flu, if people must come out into public instead of staying in their beds with chicken soup and a book - I so hope that this experience will teach people better habits).
But I do think some of the stuff people are being asked to do in some countries is a bit extreme, like not being allowed out to exercise, and parks and beaches getting closed. If everyone stuck to the commonsense guidelines, transmission risks outdoors would be low at the spacings being requested between people not living in the same household.
I thought the cartoon was great.
My understanding is that the highest risk is through droplet infection, followed by a much, much lower incidence of touching your mucous membranes with contaminated hands, and a very rare circumstance (potential, not known) of aerosolized transmission. Apparently, it is possible for a person to produce particles tiny enough to be suspended in the air, but there is no evidence yet showing that the amount of those suspended particles produced by one person contains enough virus that another person could be infected. Virus particles from air samples so far have not been able to produce disease in the lab. Going with epidemiological evidence so far, it sounds like the virus is very fragile and easy to kill, and most cases are from people in prolonged contact with those who are infected. Close distance over a prolonged period of time.
To me when it is highlighted that health care workers have the virus in large numbers, it is important to consider if those are in areas where everyone has the virus in large numbers, and the health care workers are part of the general community. I think everyone assumes the workers are contracting the virus at work, but in most places health care workers are far less likely to catch disease at work where they are following infection control procedures, and much more likely to catch diseases in the community and from family. Especially we see this in many diseases with people who have school-age children, and get exposed to all kinds of things. Usually where I work we have seen this route to infection: children bring something to their parents, who bring it to work, who give it to other coworkers. It is extremely rare to see a patient bring a disease which is spread among workers. You're less likely to catch a disease from someone when you are thinking "they are contaminated" versus when you are talking comfortably to a friend, who happens to have the disease that is going around.
My work is doing antibody screening, to see which health care workers have been exposed. This will be followed up by a series of tests, to see how many will get exposed over time. I confess this is too much work for me, so I did not sign up. So far we have one person with antibodies whose entire family was sick with something that lasted a couple of weeks in January. That was well before the cases showed up in the nursing home in WA in late February. My suspicion is that since we've had so few cases in Oregon, 2,500 out of 4 million people, more than likely we already have some immunity due to undiagnosed cases from before the outbreak began. After all, many people die of respiratory illnesses that are not pinned to a specific organism. Older people dying with comorbidities...that could have been happening since the earliest cases in China (since we have so much worldwide travel) and it would not have caused any alarm. It's not like that is anything unusual. If the amount of deaths were similar to what we've had so far in Oregon, I suspect we would not have noticed. Until there were actual outbreaks such as the one in Washington, and the later spread to the big cities, it could have passed around much of the less populated areas of the country.
People seem to be returning to normal where I live. Meaning they are driving around, going to the stores that are open, and generally not behaving fearfully or looking all jumpy like there are crocodiles in the bushes like they were a couple weeks ago. This is good, in my opinion. Fear in itself is unhealthy. Our governor says we will begin opening businesses in two weeks. Since people are not getting infected at high rates here, I think it is a good decision. Otherwise, keep everything closed until there is a vaccine?
People seem fairly realistic too. Most are not wearing masks inside stores, and it seems like people accept whatever others are doing without obvious judgment. Mask, no mask, gloves, N95, whatever. My sister thought it would be good to have gloves at her work, and I said better to use hand sanitizer between customers. I told her that in a single shift at work I probably throw away 25 or more pairs of gloves. That is what makes them effective for preventing cross contamination. I also probably wash my hands twenty or thirty times and use hand sanitizer more than fifty times. On a busy night I might use an entire box of gloves and half a Purell bottle (large).
We know that if something is truly airborne, an N95 will not do you any good unless you are fit-tested. If there are gaps, meaning it is not the right size for your face, the virus will get through. We only wear an N95 mask if we are tested yearly and know it fits. Otherwise we don't go into an airborne situation. The testing involves spraying a bitter tasting substance inside an enclosed hood, while we have the mask on. Then we talk and move our face to see if we can taste the substance. If we taste it, the test has failed because we would have been exposed.
I think people should wear masks if they are sick, otherwise if you are keeping a distance from others there is no reason to. It's not an epidemiological problem if there is such a low transmission rate with casual contact. In places where distance is not possible, masks are important. I believe in following logic and science, but not just doing what will help others psychologically. Some might not feel safe unless you wrap yourself in plastic, so there should be a limit. Businesses want to give a good impression, so that is understandable to a point but there are so many illogical practices going on. My personal experience with the human psyche is that when one safety measure becomes familiar, a person will need to go a step farther to feel safe. Logic should dictate our practices rather than fear. Fear will mean reading one article and deciding more extreme measures are necessary.
People are frustrated because science is a slow process. It has always been that way. We have to follow correct methodology and that can take many months, even years. There are important reasons why we can't rush science. You don't really want them to rush a vaccine only to find out it makes 25% of us have an extreme allergic reaction, do you? They have to monitor things carefully, and study test subjects. It is better for a million people to get Covid, and 5% or so of those die, than for 3 million people to take an experimental drug and 70% of those get a deadly blood cancer.
The death rate in the US so far for the year is average. This means that the deaths from causes other than coronavirus are below average.
As some have noted, the pandemic has seemed to have a strange effect which overall has lowered some of the other causes of death. I don't think all of these can be known, but there have been far fewer car accidents, a drop in drug overdose deaths, obviously with less surgeries there have been less surgical complications and deaths from those, less injuries from violent crimes. Some unknown factors such as lowered stress or eating out have lowered stroke and heart attack rates. Probably with most of the hospitals having so few patients, less deaths from hospital acquired infections, medication errors, and other medical errors. Strange, almost like a weird homeostasis with certain areas having increased deaths while others having much lower deaths than normal, sort of equalizing the effect when spread across the US.
Those are my rambling thoughts of the day.