We’re Just Rediscovering a 19th-Century Pandemic Strategy: “Imagine a sci-fi movie featuring a scary new virus. You would probably picture people protecting themselves with space suits and respirators. Who would have thought that the key to fighting this novel coronavirus would be as simple as fresh air? Only everyone 100 years ago.”
Honestly, there are still too many exceptions in today’s new restrictions for Washington state for my tastes (but I recognize that without federal assistance, the state can only support so much).
Stay home. Order delivery and get takeout for food. Let your hair grow out. Order the things you need from small businesses that offer delivery or curbside pickup, or from Amazon or other big retailers that will ship to you.
Travel, restaurants, haircuts, and many other things are niceties, not necessities. And they all depend on the workers who support and provide those services risking their lives to let you have those few moments of faux normality.
If you’re a worker who isn’t able to work from home, take every precaution you can. I’m sorry the federal government refuses to give you the assistance you should be getting so that you don’t have to risk yourself to cater to other people’s selfishness.
When you do have to go out, mask up. And even if you’re out on a trail or hiking and don’t think you’re close enough to anyone else to need a mask, think about those times when you can smell cigarette smoke from far away and reconsider that cavalier attitude towards aerosol transmission. Or, if you still won’t wear a mask, don’t scoff and mock those who do; they’re making the effort to protect themselves and others, and such behavior should be rewarded, not denigrated.
And yes, some of these comments are very pointed, and unapologetically so. As much as I love you all, I’ve seen far too many posts and photos and heard and read too many comments and statements that make it clear that these behaviors aren’t limited to red states, rural areas, and Republican voters.
Yes, this sucks. But death is worse.
If at all possible, stay home. When it isn’t possible, wear your masks. Stop risking the health of yourselves and others.
Masks Work. Really. We’ll Show You How: “With coronavirus cases still rising, wearing a mask is more important than ever. In this animation, you will see just how effective a swath of fabric can be at fighting the pandemic.”
I’m so tired of this year.
Crossing my fingers for the best-case scenario: Trump is actually ill. He ends up having a case that’s serious enough to keep him isolated and unable to debate or campaign for at least the next few weeks, but not so bad that Pence assumes the Presidency (and possibly brings anti-Trump Republicans back to vote for a ticket with Pence at its head). His sycophantic followers, used to gleefully following a bellicose, bellowing bully of a god-king, have to reconcile that with reality and decide if they still support a frail, sickly man, laid low by the very thing that he told them shouldn’t be worried about and that they decried as a hoax. From his sickbed in isolation, he watches in impotent fury as his campaign crumbles, his family and advisors turn on each other as they scramble to hold on to whatever power they can, his base stays home, either unwilling to brave a virus that suddenly seems real or simply uninterested in supporting a mere mortal, anti-Trump Republicans and Republicans unwilling to vote for someone in undeniable ill health either don’t vote or vote against him, and Biden/Harris solidly and unequivocally win the election.
We’ve had a year of worst-case scenarios, of course, so the odds are against this. But I can hope.
Seems the USPS had a fairly well developed plan to distribute reusable masks to US households, and was far enough along to have a press release drafted, until the White House killed it. Excerpted from this Washington Post article:
Some top administration officials even hoped to tap the mail service’s vast network — and its unrivaled ability to reach every U.S. Zip code — to help Americans obtain personal protective equipment. The idea originated out of the Department of Health and Human Services, which suggested a pack of five reusable masks be sent to every residential address in the country, with the first shipments going to the hardest-hit areas.
At the time, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had been working on coronavirus guidance that recommended face coverings, a reversal of its previous position, in the face of mounting evidence that people could spread the coronavirus without experiencing symptoms. The Postal Service prepared for the possibility it might be deputized in the effort, drawing up a news release touting that it was “uniquely suited” to help. The service specifically identified Orleans and Jefferson parishes in Louisiana as the first areas to receive face coverings, with deliveries shortly thereafter to King County, Wash.; Wayne County, Mich.; and New York, according to the newly unearthed document, which is labeled a draft.
Before the news release was sent, however, the White House nixed the plan, according to senior administration officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to share internal deliberations.’
“There was concern from some in the White House Domestic Policy Council and the office of the vice president that households receiving masks might create concern or panic,” one administration official said in response to the scrapped mask plan.
So—possibly goofy idea, proposed by someone with absolutely no medical background whatsoever:
One of the things I keep seeing about the coronavirus is that one of the reasons outdoor environments may be less transmissive (in addition to the natural ventilation) is that the ultraviolet wavelengths of sunlight break down the virus. (This doesn’t mean the virus can’t be transmitted outdoors, only that it breaks down faster—wear your masks!)
So what if we required that all indoor public spaces had to use lighting that consisted of at least, oh, 25% high-UV output sources like black light bulbs? It wouldn’t be anything like a guaranteed knockout punch for the virus, but might at least help to speed the breakdown of any airborne infectious particulates.
As a bonus—whether or not this would be a good bonus is an exercise left up to the individual—everything would get a bit of a cyberpunk glow to it, especially into the evening hours, and we might see a resurgence of ‘70s/‘90s-style UV-reactive neons, colors, and fabrics in fashion and pop art. 😉
Plus, who knew that LED black lights were so plentiful and relatively inexpensive? I’m tempted to find some way to work these into the home decor, whether or not there’s any medical benefit! (I don’t think Prairie would be as excited about the idea, though….)
Update: It’s been pointed out on Facebook that cancer might be a concern of notably increased UV levels. This, obviously, is why I started this post by noting that I’m not a medical professional (or even amateur). ;)
An update on WA’s coronavirus status.
As has been noted in a Twitter screenshot I’ve seen a number of people sharing, one of the key metrics to track is not the number of cases, but the number of deaths, and how quickly that number is growing. According to the Twitter post from Dr. Sam Wang of Princeton, “If the ‘doubling time’ of these slows to more than 3 days, we’re starting to bend the curve.”
According to a graphic from the New York Times, as of this morning, WA’s ‘doubling time’ is nine days.
This is good news. WA may have been first in the US to get seriously hit, and there have been some hiccups, but overall, we’ve been doing a good job of social distancing and controlling the situation as much as possible.
I’ve even seen other (currently unsourced) comments indicating that the UW medical center is not only not overwhelmed, but aren’t even as whelmed as they expected to be at this point, and are offering assistance to other places.
None of this means we’re out of the woods yet. But they’re all good signs that we’re doing the right things, however frustrating they may be.
Keep it up, everyone!
Just a bit of silliness today — I created a mask-wearing version of my social media profile photo to use for the foreseeable future, and I’m actually pretty darn happy with how it came out.
I took one of the Memoji caricatures of me from my iPhone, found an image of someone wearing a disposable mask, and then did a little image editing (“photoshopping”, only using Affinity Photo) to extract the mask, overlay it onto the Memoji, and warp it into place.
It’s silly but serious, and was a pleasant distraction for ten minutes or so earlier today.
Note to social media content managers: Check your scheduled posts. King 5 Seattle’s article about which Capitol Hill restaurant has the “most adventurous brunch menu” that published today is…poorly timed. Note the “Breaking News” banner up top, too.
Well, it’s official: Norwescon 43 is canceled.
This is really disappointing. But we’ll regroup, get re-energized, and be back in 2021.
But man. Spending the morning updating the website and sending out all the official notifications was really difficult to do.