July 3, 2020

Back to reality

Jamie and I are home after our week of camping in Idaho and Montana. Despite the rainy weather, we had a renewing time. We saw owls, harriers, swans, pelicans, and other birds. We saw a herd of buffalo and lots of deer, but no bears, and were entertained by the Columbian Ground Squirrel. We were awed by the wildflowers. We had some nice visits with folks we know, safe six foot distance outdoors, of course.

And I felt pretty safe from COVID-19 almost everywhere. We camped in mostly national forest or state park campgrounds, using pit toilets. These were not used by people in RV’s since they have their own loos. The pit toilets felt really clean in retrospect. Showers were closed and many sites like the National Bison Reserve and much of Glacier National Park were closed also. We stopped for gas and bought some bread and sausages, but otherwise stayed outdoors. More people wore masks in the stores than I expected in Montana and Idaho. The only time I felt vulnerable was the rest stop today on I-90 outside of Spokane, where most people were not wearing masks. No wonder they have a spike in that county.

And we had almost no cell phone access for the past 3 days. A relief to be home, but alarmed at the record number of cases rising in many parts of the country. This New York Times article has a graphic that shows the increase and decrease of infections across the country since the beginning of March. Alarmed that we are not flattening the curve, that mask wearing is politicized, and that ignorance about the reality of the illness of COVID-19 has led college students to have COVID parties as a contest to see who gets sick first.

Hospital cases are rising, but the good news is that we know how to treat COVID-19 now so more people are surviving. Deaths lag hospitalizations by a couple weeks so things can change, especially when the hospitals and health care workers get overwhelmed. The other reassuring news is that more data shows that the Black Lives Matter protests have not cause a spike in infections. And we can possibly safely, have outdoor get togethers with a small group. That means small, just a few, lots of distance, face masks, be ware of too many people getting closer together and the effect that alcohol has on our inhibitions. But we are social creatures, we just need to remember how to visit safely and not get complacent.

I do not know the solution to helping people understand when they don’t seem to want to know. That means the rest of us then are responsible to keep ourselves safe. We can do this. We have been doing the same things that Fauci and many other infectious disease experts are doing and it is working. Don’t lose heart. Take some time to nurture yourselves. It helps.

Wash your hands, cover your nose, and keep safe six.

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/2020/07/02/us/coronavirus-cases-increase.html

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Columbian_ground_squirrel

https://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/health/surge-in-state-covid-19-cases-driven-by-eastern-washington/

https://time.com/5862571/alabama-coronavirus-parties/

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/07/01/nyregion/nyc-coronavirus-protests.html

https://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/health/covid-19-data-what-the-numbers-mean-and-how-to-tell-if-the-coronavirus-is-spreading/

https://www.seattletimes.com/nation-world/hospitalization-rise-is-cause-for-concern/

https://www.washingtonpost.com/health/more-covid-19-patients-are-surviving-ventilators-in-the-icu/2020/07/03/2e3c3534-bbca-11ea-8cf5-9c1b8d7f84c6_story.html

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/07/03/well/live/coronavirus-spread-outdoors-party.html

https://www.washingtonpost.com/health/how-fauci-5-other-health-specialists-deal-with-covid-19-risks-in-their-everyday-lives/2020/07/02/d4665ed6-b6fb-11ea-a510-55bf26485c93_story.html