Masks. Again.

I don’t know whether to laugh or cry.

Per WHO, masks should apparently have an absolute minimum of three layers, one of which can be cotton, one should be a filter (which can, given lack of options, be cotton), and the third should be polyester.  Are all the quilters going to remake the hundreds of masks they’ve made based on that “WHO-approved patterns” (which had no indication anywhere of WHO approval)?

In any case, I feel like WHO has squandered their last shred of credibility.  Let’s not forget, just recently they were telling us that the fatality rate was 3.7% – now per CDC it’s 0.4%.  Today they can’t decide if it can be transmitted asymptomatically or not.  Frankly, I think our knowledge of coronavirus today is comparable to the understanding of cholera in the mid 1800s.  That is – speculative and with lots of major errors.  But, as with cholera, with a breakthrough likely soon.  Ish.

The mask recommendations are also interesting given the thousands of protesters using single or double layer bandanas.

seattle protests

Seattle protests: young white males packed in cheek to jowl without even a pretext of social distancing.  Meanwhile, it is STILL forbidden to hire a nanny or use childcare if you are “nonessential,” and all playgrounds and pools are still closed.  So. Absurd.

a few words

So much going on in the world.

I’ve thought a lot about what to say about George Floyd, and Ahmaud.  Obviously it’s wrong.   What to do?  I remember very clearly the protests in Ferguson occurring in 2014, because I was in labor with Briony in 8/19, ten days after Michael Brown was shot.  It seems not much has changed since then.  The only person whose really given me hope about this situation is Barack Obama.  I guess that’s sort of his trademark, hope.  I wish we could re-elect him.

I’ve been swearing up and down that I’m going to vote Republican locally for the first time in my life in the upcoming elections due to what I perceive as King County’s ineffective and unreasonable Covid restrictions, which ultimately hurt the poor the most.  This kind of thing makes it really hard to do that.

ponderings

An interesting and troubling article suggesting things will not return to normal for decades.

Yes, a vaccine will help, but it’s likely the early vaccine may only be 50% to 70% effective, like the flu vaccine.  It may also have major side effects, like the smallpox vaccine, which may make it a difficult decision to be an early adopter, despite Covid’s severity.

My own perspective is that because we likely aren’t going to be going back to “normal” anytime soon, we have to learn to live with this thing.  That means deciding on an individual level what level of risk you can take.  It may make living in big cities extremely undesirable for years, maybe decades.  It sucks for those who are immune deficient or have asthma or who are already old.  For those of us under 50, it may make sense to get this disease sooner rather than later, though I personally think it’s worth giving the vaccine effort a year.

Increasingly, leading experts believe many Americans won’t make the shift toward long-range thinking until the virus spreads more widely and affects someone they know.

“It’s like people who drive too fast. They come upon the scene of an accident, and for a little while, they drive more carefully, but soon they’re back to speeding again,” said Michael Osterholm, director of the University of Minnesota’s Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy.

About 50% of my coworkers, who are largely my age and healthy, had Coronavirus, confirmed by test.  One described it as the worst illness he’d ever had.  Another said, it “wasn’t so bad.”  None of them were hospitalized.  The conversation made me anxious to avoid it but not afraid of it, if that makes sense.  Based on everything I’ve read, this illness is about five times worse than the flu.  The flu is a bad scene, so five times worse than the flu is definitely alarming, but I don’t think it’s worth stopping life for if you are not vulnerable: not over 60, not under 1, not asthmatic or diabetic, not severely obese or suffering from other health conditions.  Because S is under one, we will be very cautious at least until she turns one, or until I read something that convinces me she’s not at risk (unlikely).

The real question for me is whether it makes sense for H and I to stay in Seattle, given neither of us are working here presently.  At what point to we leave this place that we love and move somewhere more rural?

masks again

I promise at some point, I will post about something other than masks, but I feel vindicated on my early pro-mask stance.  In March, I wrote the following:

Furthermore, I find the anti-paper mask rhetoric in the US irritating.  Paper masks do help prevent contagion, which is why Asian governments recommend them, including China and Korea, the only countries so far to actually control this thing.  My Korean friend is completely mystified by the anti-mask perspective in the US.  Buying them now may not make sense since medical personnel need them more, but I’m skeptical about whether medical personnel can just wear any old paper mask.  Furthermore, many, many people already own masks in their homes which they could wear.  We, for example, have open boxes of masks from when S was in the hospital and H and I had colds.  We wore a mask whenever we held her.  And, she didn’t catch our cold.

I am still mystified as to why everyone in Asia is happily wearing medical masks and we in the US are still walking around like bandits with bandanas over our faces.  Furthermore, the mask recommendation from the CDC is still *very* lukewarm:

In light of this new evidence, CDC recommends wearing cloth face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain (e.g., grocery stores and pharmacies) especially in areas of significant community-based transmission.

So, you don’t need to wear a mask unless social distancing measures are difficult to maintain?  And possibly not if there’s no community-based transmission? It’s hard to blame evil “republicans” for not enthusiastically wearing masks given the weakness of the CDC recommendation.

I am currently following the CDC recommendation, but since I almost never go anywhere where I’d be within 6 feet of people, I almost never wear a mask.  I have groceries delivered, and I don’t go anywhere else most of the time.  I did wear one to the pediatrician with S and I will wear one for my teeth cleaning today.  (I’m very unenthused about going to the dentist, but I put it off due to pregnancy and then S’s health issues, and it needs to get done.)  But otherwise, I don’t wear one.  I see my friend in Japan post pictures of her family, and they wear paper masks any time they are outdoors, even if they’re a mile from the nearest human.   Furthermore, if you’re going to wear a cloth masks, I suspect it’s much better to wear one that’s an actual mask as opposed to pulling bandana up over your face, which leaves tons of gaps and so on.

There was obviously a hamster study that was very encouraging.  I was very disheartened by another study  that suggested even N95 masks would be ineffective given the size of the holes in the mask as compared to the size of Covid virus particles.  I think it’s interesting that the consensus is suggesting that masks do work, meaning that it doesn’t matter that the particles are smaller.  This makes sense if you think about it.  If you threw a bunch of basketballs at a net with holes 1.5x or even 2x the size of the basketball, most of them would be stopped.

Anyway, I want to start going out to parks and things more with the kids, so I think we’re all going to start wearing masks.  I still don’t plan to wear them when I run, though.  I find it easy to maintain 10+ feet from other humans when running and generally am only within 100 ft of a few people at all, so hopefully that’s not really a risk to me or them.  (Pedestrians rarely wear masks outside in my area, excepting older people, especially people of Asian descent.)

Inslee rant

The governor of WA has finally released a quantitative threshold for leaving “lockdown.”  The good news is that he got it from the CDC.  The bad news is that it doesn’t make any intuitive sense.  A few weeks ago, I assumed the CDC knew better than I and believed what they said whether it made intuitive sense or not.  Now that they’ve reversed their positions on many of the nonintuitive things they’ve said, I frankly no longer trust them.

In any case, the threshold for reopening is when new cases reach a level of 10 per 100000 on average cumulative over 14 days.  (in other words, no more than 10/14 cases per 100000 per day.)  Here’s why this makes no sense.  WA is attempting to ramp up testing and positive test percent is finally dropping a bit; we will be punished for doing more testing.  How does this make sense?  Per our DOH website, they think there are 10 to 15 people with Covid for every positive test, meaning they think we’re identifying less than 10% of actual positive cases.  Therefore, the number of positive tests is highly dependent on how much testing is done.  Reopening should be based either on deaths or hospital load (or both).  Not positive tests.

Furthermore, my projections (which admittedly are not exactly sophisticated, but are at least as accurate as IMHE for my county) show we will *never* achieve this threshold.  It’s just math, and achieving the threshold is certainly within the uncertainty, but I’m guessing increased testing plus decreased compliance is driving numbers to asymptotically plateau above the desired threshold.  IMHE does not project number of positive tests.  I’m not sure if anyone does, though one could extrapolate number of cases from number of deaths (which IMHE does project), and then project number of positive tests from that and planned tests conducted.  I figure my model is plausibly accurate through June barring major changes, meaning that if the governor follows the plan, we’ll still be locked down in July.

I had planned to write an uplifting post about how thankful and proud I am to be American, but my frustration with our governor is just overwhelming all my other sentiments right now.

We went to a nearby park yesterday and had a very nice time.  We stayed only about an hour because the baby got fussy, but as we were leaving I observed that they had closed the park to new arrivals and were turning people away.  This strikes me as just utterly ridiculous.  Here are some photos from our visit.  Note the complete absence of people.

Furthermore, when we got home and I went for a run through our neighborhood park, it was mobbed, particularly with obviously unrelated teenagers.  How is it helpful to close large (state) parks, thus cramming people into fewer remaining recreational areas?   Also, teenagers in my area are 100% not compliant, which makes the fact that they will probably close schools in the fall all the more ironic and pointless.