August 9, 2020

Testing and masking

Let’s face it: the numbers right now are alarming and scary. True, the death rate is low per numbers of infections, but the US is averaging 1,000 deaths a day. The disease itself can cause long term harm in survivors, so people at lower risk are also wanting to avoid infection. We are getting more data and evidence that masking up decreases infections and is safe. One model shows that if 95% of people wear masks as many as 65,000 lives will be saved. Otherwise the total number of deaths in the US will approach 300,000 by Dec. 1. Shocking and heartbreaking numbers. Most people in the US agree with mask wearing. True, a small but vocal percentage do not agree and, depending on where you live, the percent may be higher. This is due to leadership, unreliable news sources, and being in areas with low prevalence of infections, so they don’t know anyone who has had COVID-19. Somehow we need to do better and help them see that the masks work and prevent infections, especially indoors. This can help get us all back to work and school, as well as keeping us healthy and our hearts from breaking.

Rapid testing is another tool to help decrease the infection rate. True, the tests are not perfect, but they are cheap and results come back in 15-30 minutes, as opposed to the week long or more waiting for results now. Too little, too late. The rapid tests can identify people early in their infection when they might not have symptoms but are shedding the virus. These are the people most likely to spread the virus. Identifying infections early, then having them socially isolate until they are no longer infectious, can make a giant dent in new infections. This tool is needed, but is awaiting approval. Dr. Paul Sax, an infectious disease specialist at Harvard that I follow, agrees in his blog and urges us to go to and use the info there to write our senators, representatives, and governors to get approval. This is actually something tangible we can all do to help.

Wash your hands, cover your nose, keep safe six, enjoy people outdoors. And write your politicians.