Every disaster movie begins with the government ignoring the scientists
Updated: Dec 28, 2021
OK, so that's as political as I will go. There will be plenty of time for Monday morning quarterbacking later.
Today, I want to give you a little bit of science behind social distancing and discuss a little bit about cleaning.
First, this is the scary graph. Log scale on the left. You can see which countries implemented strong countermeasures (Hong Kong, Singapore, and now South Korea). All other countries are on the same trajectory. 33% increase in cases per day.
Our threshold for where our trendline breaks away from the epidemic curve (33% growth per day) is completely up to our threshold for change. This has be personal and government actions.
So why is social distancing so important?
Step 1: Usual routine but maintain a larger distance between people (6 feet/2 metres).
So virus-laden droplets from sneezes and coughs can travel many meters. Just stay the hell away from people coughing and sneezing. But what many of you don't know is that just the process of breathing results in respiratory droplets being dispersed in the air. They can travel about 6 feet before falling to the floor/surface (contaminating that surface).
But from a social distancing point of view, putting 6 feet between you and a stranger dramatically lowers your chances of inhaling infected respiratory droplets.
So avoid crowds. Avoid lines. Avoid meetings. Do things like shop at slow times (I've seen many of you using grocery delivery of pickup services). If you must have a meeting, reduce numbers, create space.
Step 2: Reduce your interactions with people by 25%
Modify your daily routine so that you have 25% less contact with other people. Just this move alone slows the spread of the virus by 50%. This gives us twice as long to come up with counter measures. Obviously, a larger drop in contacts has a bigger effect, but 25% is easy to accomplish. You don't have to lock yourself up, just minimize unecessary contacts.
Step 3: Wash your hands! Stop touching your face.
Washing hands slows down the spread of the virus by about 5 fold. Use soap and water for 30 seconds where ever possible. This is the absolute best practice. If your hands are clean but you don't have access to soap and water, use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
Step 4. Decontaminate surfaces.
Some great science came out yesterday that gave use definitive answers on how long the virus survives and is infective on various surfaces.
Plastics: up to 3 days
Steel: up to 2 days
Cardboard: 1 day
Aerosol: 3 hours
We know lysol/chlorox wipes work well, 65% ethanol (don't use 100% it doesn't work as well), dilute bleach (I will add more here as I find them). If you are in a business with lots of people traffic, really think about how you can disinfect surfaces to protect customers AND staff.
Step 5: Wash cloths daily.
One of the recommendations from Hong Kong (which is controlling the virus well without aggressive restriction on freedoms), was daily doing daily laundry. The virus can sit for ~24hrs on cloths, so it is recommended that laundry be done daily. Obviously, mainly cloths that you wear out in public. Change nothing, don't add more detergent. Just wash more often! Conclusion
So there it is. Life needs to change a little bit, but you don't have to lock yourself away to have a profound effect on how quickly this virus takes hold in the USA. Adjust behaviors. Find that balance. Remember your actions are not just about you, but about everyone else in the community.
Slow this down, protect our most vulnerable, protect our healthcare workers.
Slow this down, give our Scientists and Doctors a chance to work out new treatments.