Weekend Update 8/29/2020: The virus and the fascism are the enemy, not the masks
This is going to be a slightly different Weekend Update than usual. There is a lot of news that I came across after I finished this week’s Friday Five post on Thursday night, but as is often the case, a lot of it is either salacious or outrage-inducing of otherwise bad news. It’s also all over the map with various topics and sometimes the scatter shot of “and that’s f-ed up too!” can multiply the outrage. So I’m going to focus on only a couple of topics, and a certain amount of it is good, scientific information that you can actually use.
I’ll start with that. If you don’t want to be outraged, don’t read past the bold “Meanwhile” below.
When it comes to COVID-19, the evidence overwhelmingly supports aerosol transmission, and there are no strong arguments against it. For example, contact tracing has found that much COVID-19 transmission occurs in close proximity, but that many people who share the same home with an infected person do not get the disease. To understand why, it is useful to use cigarette or vaping smoke (which is also an aerosol) as an analog. Imagine sharing a home with a smoker: if you stood close to the smoker while talking, you would inhale a great deal of smoke. Replace the smoke with virus-containing aerosols, which behave very similarly, and the impact is similar: the closer you are to someone releasing virus-carrying aerosols, the more likely you are to breathe in larger amounts of virus. We know from detailed, rigorous studies that when individuals talk in close proximity, aerosols dominate transmission and droplets are nearly negligible.
If you are standing on the other side of the room, you would inhale significantly less smoke. But in a poorly ventilated room, the smoke will accumulate, and people in the room may end up inhaling a lot of smoke over time. Talking, and especially singing and shouting increase aerosol exhalation by factors of 10 and 50, respectively. Indeed, we are finding that outbreaks often occur when people gather in crowded, insufficiently ventilated indoor spaces, such as singing at karaoke parties, cheering at clubs, having conversations in bars, and exercising in gyms. Superspreading events, where one person infects many, occur almost exclusively in indoor locations and are driving the pandemic. These observations are easily explained by aerosols, and are very difficult or impossible to explain by droplets or fomites.
—Jose-Luis Jimeez, Professor of Chemistry and a Fellow of the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences at the University of Colorado-Boulde
The killer phrase is here: “many people who share the same home with an infected person do not get the disease.” (emphasis added)
Basically, masks are a big help if you have to go out and be around people, washing your hands frequently is also good, but ventilation is more important that scrubbing every inanimate object in sight. Dr. Jimenez sums it up as: Avoid Crowding, Indoors, low Ventilation, Close proximity, long Duration, Unmasked, Talking/singing/Yelling.
So, don’t go to bars, don’t hang out in church, don’t got to concerts, don’t go to theatres… and wear the mask correctly!
If you don’t understand that this is full fascism, direct attacks on the fundamental idea of freedom, I don’t know what to say.