May 21, 2020

Distance, Masking, Time, Hand washing

The more we learn about this pandemic and its spread and how it can be contained, the more clear it is to me that these 4 simple concepts of distance, masking, exposure time, and hand washing can reduce our risk and keep us safe. This goes back to the article I posted last week and restated here. Wearing a mask works best to reduce the risk of the wearer to transmit it. Data confirms this. Stories from people I know who had COVID-19 confirm that wearing a mask prevented others from catching it from them. Wearing a mask protects the wearer, not perfectly, but it helps.

We just need to keep in mind that the tests checking for the viral RNA have poor reliability and 30-50% false negatives depending on symptoms. This means if someone tells you “I don’t need to wear a mask because I tested negative”, stay at least 6 feet away and wear your mask and wash your hands. The test could be wrong. When both people wear masks, the risk of transmission drops very low, add in keeping a 6 foot distance, even lower. If we add the concept of limiting time of exposure, we can feel less fear. That means we don’t need to fear if someone runs by us closer than 6 feet. So you can keep those factors in mind as your community opens up again.

It is helpful to look at your own risks which come in different levels. Here is a good explanation of pooled risks and how to assess your own. I like the idea of two families being able to interact closely if everyone in the group has not had possible exposure for 2 weeks. This could be a way for close friends to play tunes together again or see their grandkids.

And we are learning more and more all the time. Some news is good, some not so good, but I have hope, overall. We know masks work, and we know that we have cut the number of infections by our behaviors of time, distance, masking, and hand washing,.

Considering where I thought we’d be when I started writing the first week of March, you done good!

Wash your hands and cover your nose.

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.