COVID-19 is all about concentration
We were flattening the curve. We were staying at home. We were doing the right thing. Then our leaders – county, state, and federal – blinked. They caved to pressure from the business community to “open up.” And they opened up even where it made no sense to open up: bars, restaurants, churches, movie theaters. Now the prevalence of COVID-19 is far worse in our region than it ever was.
Here is what our leaders should have said to the business community: “If we open up, cases will spike and we will have to shut down again. Not only will it be costly to ramp up only to have to close down again (especially for restaurants), but also, it will delay an economic recovery even further.” In other words, they should have led.
Instead, they somehow expected that families and friends from different households wouldn’t get together even though people were getting together in bars. And now they blame citizens instead of blaming themselves for putting out a mixed and inconsistent message.
There are some sensible ways to open up, but they require paying attention to “The Six C’s” (Note: I have modified this from others):
- Closed spaces – If you have to be around people outside your household, it is better to be outdoors than indoors. If you have to be indoors and you can open a window to improve ventilation, do so.
- Closeness – Keep at least 6 feet apart from those outside your household. More distance is even better.
- Crowds – It is better to be around fewer people.
- Continued contact – Briefer periods near people outside your household are better than longer ones.
Closed spaces + closeness + crowds + continued contact = concentration. You want to be around the lowest potential concentration of airborne COVID-19 particles possible. If you avoid closed spaces, avoid closeness, avoid crowds, and avoid continued contact to the extent you can, you will keep your exposure to airborne COVID-19 lower.
And last, but not least:
- Coverage – Wear a mask. Ask others around you to wear a mask if they are not. Call out businesses who are not enforcing mask wearing.
And yes, by all means keep washing your hands. However, keep in mind that our best findings so far suggest that most transmission is through the air, not through touch, so washing your hands, washing surfaces, etc., will only take you so far.
This is, of course, advice for us all, but it is also advice that should inform our leadership in making policies. For example, if there is an activity that can be moved outside, help move it outside. Outdoor restaurant eating is a fine example that the city of Davis supporting lately. (Although to be honest, I probably wouldn’t do it – I get take-out instead – the risk seems a lot less than eating indoors). Or maybe even schools?
Let’s pressure our leaders to get creative and think of other ways we can attend to The Six C’s.
Let’s also speak up and let them know to hold the line this time, and not cave to “opening up” pressure that harms both public health and the economy.
Finally, Bernie Sanders has called for the Senate to approve sweeping Covid-19 stimulus legislation that:
- Uses federal funds to cover workers’ paychecks and prevent more layoffs;
- Extends the $600-per-week boost in unemployment benefits;
- Expands Medicare to cover the uninsured;
- Provides emergency funding to prevent the collapse of the U.S. Postal Service;
- Sends a $2,000 monthly check to every working-class person in the U.S. until the end of the pandemic;
- Cancels rent and mortgage payments until the end of the pandemic;
- Increases federal nutrition benefits; and
- Requires the federal government to manufacture and distribute free face masks to everyone in the U.S.
How do we pay for this? Cut military spending by 10%. It makes no sense to sacrifice our day-to-day safety for more military equipment.
Let’s pressure our local leaders to ask for this stimulus legislation and pressure our national leaders directly ourselves. This is the path forward, not opening up bars and pretending everything is OK when it isn’t.