I hope to build a sub-site of advice on surviving the novel coronavirus. For now, this is a single page built from my posts about coping with the virus. I hope to grow it into pages for different categories.
I hope everyone, including honest skeptics, will find value in how I’ve approached the subject. Yelling at each other won’t help. I present information I trust, and advice on how to think for yourself.
It’s about the science. Think carefully.
In his hit song “Superstition” Stevie Wonder sang, “When you believe in things that you don’t understand then you suffer.” The purpose of this page is to help you understand virus-related topics so you can make informed decisions. It’s a compilation of advice I’ve posted here or on social media.
1. Masking works. Do it.
See this tweet from an MD who works with COVID-19 patients all the time:
I have been seeing covid patients since the pandemic started, including delivering babies of covid+ moms. I wear a mask and face shield at all times and haven’t gotten sick. Masking works.
If you want to understand more about why and how masks work, these posts link to good articles with illustrations.
- How universal masking minimizes COVID-19 risk (great graphic) May 28
- Great NY Times visualization of how masks work against mists (aka aerosols) Nov 1
Masks do not guarantee you won’t get the virus, any more than seat belts guarantee you won’t die in a car crash. But they both work very well at reducing harm.
Wear them correctly, and watch out for people who don’t. GERMS GO IN AND OUT THROUGH THE AIR HOLES, WHICH INCLUDE NOSES. This is not rocket science – it’s elementary school science.
The “liberty” complaint
A bunch of self-centered people claim that it’s their damn right to do anything they please, because “this is a free country.” They have forgotten such wise practical advice as this:
Your liberty to swing your fist
ends at my nose.
2. Herd immunity does not work without vaccines. (Unless you all get sick first.)
See my May 4 post on the subject: The problem with “herd immunity” as a COVID-19 strategy. It includes an animated version of this graphic that people said was very useful to them in their understanding:
It’s important to understand: herd immunity is not a vague concept, it’s something specific. Here’s how it works:
- Contagious diseases travel when an infected person (or cow) crosses paths with an uninfected one, who gets the bug and passes it on to others. This is bad.
- Except that does not happen if the second one is immune. In that case, the bug basically bounces off the second one, who does not become a carrier. This is good.
- When enough people or cows become immune, the disease stops spreading fast, because the whole herd is basically immune: wherever an infected cow goes, it still spreads germs, but the immune ones don’t catch it so the spread stops.
But until most critters are immune, all you get is continued spread, continued sickness, and for bad diseases, continued death. So until there are vaccines and people take them, your only other option is to stop the spread by not letting the virus into you. You do this with masks, air filters, fresh air, soap.
Again, please read that post.
Update: from my Facebook on New Year’s Eve: “The proof of the pudding, in scientific projections, is how someone’s pontifications play out. Let’s see, how about this – one of the people who said on May 2 that Sweden would soon reach herd immunity: Why herd immunity to COVID-19 is reached much earlier than thought. Well, when you reach herd immunity, there will no longer be any outbreaks, right? Here’s what actually happened: as soon as fall came and people moved back indoors, BOOM: infection rates soared.
How could this guy be so wrong? HE KNOWS NOTHING ABOUT DISEASE SCIENCE. Not even involved in medicine. He’s a climate change skeptic.
3. Use layers of safety: the “Swiss Cheese” model
How to use this thinking:
4. How soon will I get a vaccine?
Based on your risk profile, we believe you’re in line behind 118.5 million people across the United States.
When it comes to New Hampshire, we think you’re behind 491,200 others who are at higher risk in your state.
And in Hillsborough County, you’re behind 146,600 others.
These are just estimates and the line may ultimately be shorter. The order isn’t yet finalized and children could be skipped entirely if the vaccine isn’t approved for people under 18.
What does this mean for “when”? Remember that the two vaccines that will be available first require two doses, so the 118.5 million Americans ahead of me will require 237 million doses. So I won’t be getting one soon.
Some of the vaccine skeptics out there who worry about safety may be reassured by seeing hundreds of millions get vaccinated first.
5. The wildfire analogy
What happened in the Dakotas: long months with no virus, wrongly interpreted as “it’s all BS.” Reality doesn’t care what you think: when the virus did arrive after Sturgis, it spread just like wildfire, or like measles in an unvaccinated school. 4% of the ND population infected in the past month. If the whole country was like them, it would be THIRTEEN MILLION CASES in ONE MONTH.
The pattern holds true in communities large and small, because nature is nature whether you like it or not. NH latest: 12 deaths this weekend. https://www.nhpr.org/post/coronavirus-update-5-more-nh-deaths-656-new-covid-infections
6. Improvement is possible at any moment – just start doing the right thing!
From Facebook 12/2:
To everyone everywhere: it’s not too late to save lives by changing behavior. Look: although Massachusetts and NY were among the MOST infected states last winter, since June 1 they’re among the LEAST infected. BETTER BEHAVIORS AND POLICIES REALLY DO PREVENT INFECTIONS. YOU CAN DO IT.
On this chart (from DanGoodspeed.com “10,000” = 1% of the population. MA and NY are <2% infected since June 1 when we’d figured out how to stay safe.
Note: it works the other way, too. All spring, North & South Dakota saw very few infections. Ignoring the science and the news, they concluded it was all a bunch of crap. When the virus did arrive, it spread like wildfire in a dry meadow- last week ND passed 10% of the population (!) newly infected in 6 months and SD hit 8.5%:
The Dakotas still haven’t learned, btw – in the next three days each added another 3,000 per million.
Update Jan. 6: Here’s how it played out in the next five weeks: most states had another 2% of their populations infected.
But take heart – the science works! They, and your community can overcome bad history, as MA and NY did, and STOP THE SPREAD.
7. Hospitals in many places are overwhelmed already
BUT the Boston Globe reports that “Boston hospitals are NOT overwhelmed yet”. Because staying safe slows the spread (see above).
8. Denial won’t help you survive.
Learn from South Dakota.
- Avoid getting near infected people. Stay away from others, especially self-centered uncaring people who won’t wear masks. Steer clear of them, the same as you avoid bad drivers.
- Avoid closed spaces which let virus-carrying air accumulate.
- Clean your air by filtering out droplets, with masks and HEPA filters.
- Get vaccinated, so if the virus still gets near you and gets past all your layers of protection and gets into your lungs, you have the best chance of not getting sick and infecting your whole family.
Remember: every single one of the 14 million infected Americans so far got near an infected person and breathed their infected air (or let it in some other way). And a quarter million of them died.
It’s possible to avoid this.
9. More / misc
South Dakota nurse