June 17, 2020

Beware Superspreaders

I know everyone is ready to let down our guard and get out and about. The last 4 months have been challenging, to say the least. Not everyone was able to learn how to make sourdough, but there are lots more vegetable gardens in my neighborhood now. Jamie has been reaping the benefits of the strawberry patch he has been tending. I enjoy those benefits too, because they are the reddest and tastiest strawberries ever and I get to eat my fill. Plus it is the very beginning of cherry season here, my favorite. The bounty of the Pacific Northwest is here. It is why we tolerate Junuary.

Lots of us are leery about getting out at all, understandable for those of us with risks. Others are starting to relax and forget their good practices. But there are cautionary tales out there, to remind us! This story about a group of friends going to a bar one (!) night and all getting COVID-19 is a reminder. It illustrates perfectly the concept of super spreaders- individuals or events that are perfect setups for transmission. It turns out that about 10-20% of positive cases are responsible for transmitting 80% of the cases. We actually don’t understand yet why some people, especially children and people with positive SARS-CoV-2 tests but no symptoms, seem not to have as much virus in their systems. It makes trying to figure out transmission rates more difficult, and makes knowing when it is safe to go out challenging.

The article does go on to remind us of the 3 C’s that Japan has been using to contain their outbreak: avoiding 1) Closed spaces (outdoors is better), 2) Crowded places, and 3) Close contact, such as close range conversations. Add to those recommendations the time factor- if you have to go into a riskier setting, keep your time to a minimum. The final piece to make a huge difference is mask wearing. Now we have more and better data and examples to show how effective and safe they really are. This really got my attention, because it is a “real world example”. None of the 140 clients in Missouri exposed to the hairdressers a few weeks ago were infected, because both clients and hairdressers wore masks. I wear my mask for you and you wear your mask for me.

Wash your hands, cover your nose, and keep six feet away.

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.

Bonus link below about what is really going on in Seattle in the protest zone. A friend who used to live in that neighborhood noted that this is the Seattle he remembered. I realized that, despite our fears that the huge growth in Seattle due to the tech boom was changing Seattle in negative ways, its essence remains. I am happy to call it my home.