December 28, 2020

Keep your distance

I am concerned that TSA reported they screened the most airport travelers yesterday in a single day since the pandemic began, which was not the actual end of holiday travel. At the same time, data shows that 1 in 17 US residents have been infected and 1 in a 1000 have died. Those statistics will surely worsen as the travel and social partying drives more infections, followed by deaths rising two weeks later. So sad and heartbreaking. It didn’t have to be this way. Choices that we make matter. Lives are in the balance and heart breaking stories and decisions abound.

Social distancing is still the most effective way to prevent spread. This is a good graphic showing how it works. Combining masks and social distancing helps even more. Masks have their limitations, depending on what they are made of and if they are worn correctly. Social distancing is the safest thing to do, which is why I find the large numbers that traveled over the holidays distressing. We still need to know more. The CDC is doing a study looking at what material makes the best masks, when N95 masks are not available. Another study shows once again that being indoors, especially a narrow corridor without ventilation can be dangerous, if you are following someone with a loose fitting mask where the aerosols leaking out of the mask can contaminate the space.

Other studies show a couple of bits of information that may be useful and reassuring. One is that a surgical mask seems to allow speech to be heard more clearly than a homemade fitted mask allows. That means if you are speaking with someone who is hard of hearing a surgical mask may be worth using.

The other interesting news is that children are able to still read emotions in people’s faces despite mask wearing. The masks don’t “mask” emotions. This is good to know and reassuring as they have had to adapt to a new world.

More good news on the vaccine front is that a 5th vaccine is beginning a study in the US and Mexico. Novavax is not a messenger RNA vaccine like Pfizer-BioNtech or Moderna. It injects a form of the spike protein directly into the body, which induces an immune response. It seems promising. This is good news because we need more capacity to manufacture vaccines in order to get the country vaccinated and opened up again. The more companies to make the vaccines, the faster we can reach herd immunity with less deaths.

But really, the bottom line is we need to sustain just a few more months of social distancing and mask wearing. We will be able to get together again in wild celebration next year. Waiting is safest, so we can all be there. We are so close to the finish.

And also FYI, my main side effect from my vaccine has been a sore arm that is improving every day, with not really anything else notable.

Wash your hands, cover your nose, keep safe six, get your vaccine when you can.

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. masks+social distancing fast walking in corridors surgical masks more clear

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