December 11, 2020

Careful

When I was little, I heard on the news that most car accidents happened within 10 miles of your home. My little girl brain translated that fact to the long drives my family would take every summer from Texas to West Virginia where my grandparents lived. My brothers and I would travel with my parents for twelve hundred miles over 3 days each way. I didn’t particularly worry about accidents, even on those West Virginia mountain switchbacks that made me so carsick. But when we were almost home and within a few miles of our house in Fort Worth, I would not breathe easy until we were safe in our driveway. Those last 10 miles were the scariest, surely the accident was about to happen.

And that is where my fear hangs right now. We are so close to recovery but so many are in a world of hurt right now and it will be a while before things ease up. Yes vaccines are coming and treatments, if you can get them, are better. But still, people are dying, too many people are suffering. And I fear people are relaxing a little too much.

We all have pandemic fatigue and the need to be with others, especially families in these dark days. We have friends also that need us and need support. How can we do that safely?

Lots of warnings signs out there about what doesn’t work and exposes us to risks. Mostly those risks are related to being indoors. Either eating in a restaurant, such as this study from Korea that shows that even 5 minutes unmasked, in a restaurant, more than 6 feet away, can expose you if the ventilation is wrong.

Or this report out of Connecticut that shows how a party spread a wide web of infections, enough to shut down a school district. Or the newly elected New Hampshire Speaker of the House being exposed to COVID-19 at a political event and dying 3 weeks later.

Here is an interesting report about airflow in a car and which windows to open to keep a driver and passenger safe. Keep these ideas in mind if you need to help a friend get somewhere. Still wear masks, but it seems opening all the windows is best. If you can’t open them all, which windows are the best can be counterintuitive, wit the safest windows being the ones opposite and not next to you. Still all windows open is safer for the passenger but still some risk for the driver since the air flows from the back to the front of the car.

And this story about using a military grade camera shows once again that talking without masking up can spread the virus farther than we imagine. Watch the video if you can. It shows more than ever why covering your nose is so important and wearing well-fitted masks is also key. The virus builds up indoors so stay outside when visiting.

All this reminds me that I want everyone to be particularly careful over the holidays. Visiting indoors with people not in your household is simply not safe. Visiting outdoors is the safer way. We are so close, just a few more miles really. The virus is still surrounds us. We are craving normalcy, but vigilance now is important. Be safe.

Wash your hands, cover your nose, keep safe six, we are almost home.

And finally, my caveat is that this is my experience and my opinions, which are subject to change as more information is available, and not related to the organization I work for. Thanks for reading.

https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2020/us/coronavirus-us-cases.html

https://zeynep.substack.com/p/small-data-big-implications

https://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/health/like-a-spiderweb-how-a-thanksgiving-weekend-gathering-led-to-an-entire-school-district-shutting-down/

https://www.nytimes.com/live/2020/12/10/world/covid-19-coronavirus?name=styln-coronavirus&region=TOP_BANNER&block=storyline_menu_recirc&action=click&pgtype=Interactive&impression_id=171382f0-3b71-11eb-b248-cbaf322774ab&variant=1_Show#richard-hinch-nh-covid

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2020/12/201205143458.htm airflow in a car

https://www.seattletimes.com/nation-world/military-grade-camera-shows-risks-of-airborne-coronavirus-spread/