To Reopen or Not

We have to. And if we’re careful about it we can do it.

Careful will mean keeping that important distance at all times. And being mindful that a mask which does not have a good fit simply won’t be enough protection if you’re talking to someone infected, even if they’re asymptomatic.

It’s also good to keep in mind the notion of dose.

It is not the same thing to touch a surface that has been previously touched by someone with the virus – and then putting your hands in your mouth or nose or eye – than to have a conversation at close range with someone who has the symptoms or have someone infected breathe or sneeze on you. In the latter case you’re sure to catch the bug, in the former it’s less likely, and if you do, your body will have a better chance of fighting it.

Masks have a positive deterrent effect. Even when the fit around the face is loose and consequently allows a path for the bug to reach you.

Masks tell us that we’re mindful of the spread of the virus. I hadn’t been wearing them unless I had to speak to someone at less than 6 ft, but now I’ve started doing it.

It is also a courtesy to passersby.

Who knows, one might have an unexpected fit of cough or a sneeze just as one draws near another person, whether masked or not.

Will wearing a mask keep me from catching the bug from someone infected who doesn’t yet know it (because the illness is incubating), if I’m seated next to them during a 4 hour plane flight? I would rather not take the chance. And for that reason I’m unlikely to hop on a plane anytime soon if I can avoid it. Tough on the airlines, tourism, hotels.

Can we adhere to safety precautions and conduct business at the same time? Sure we can.

But it will require an arrangement that instituted the safety measures.

I can see stores doing it. And even restaurants, though capacity will have to be reduced. But it will be hard on cinemas. It will be a while for me to step back into one.

Bars? Never mind.

But I think the University of California system is overreacting when it called for online classes this Fall. Surely students can be trusted to follow safety guidelines.

And what about doctors’ offices? So many have been closed. People are not going to stop getting sick for other reasons. Why force that needless back log and burden emergency rooms?

Basic protective equipment is available.

People who are sick need to be provided with means to support themselves while staying at home unless they have to be hospitalized. Doing so keeps the rest of us safe.

China, now much maligned for not supposedly doing enough to warn us of the perils of corona, had created fever clinics, where anyone with a fever could go and get checked. No costs attached.

A good idea is a good idea, no matter where it comes from.

If people who became symptomatic knew they had a place to go to get checked and, if sick, would be cared for and their expenses covered while ill, then they would be more likely to step up and get tested.

Public transport? Wear a mask and hope for the best. It will definitely put you at greater risk.

Do we then wait for Corona to pass on? We can’t.

There’s too much at stake. The economy won’t handle it.

Jerome Powell, the Fed chair, spoke today about the road ahead. He was not optimistic. We are in an economic contraction and it will take time to recover, even with congress providing relief measures. Lots of jobs may not be coming back as the worksite adjusts to the new reality, i.e. working from home, for instance.

We can’t wait around for the vaccine, can we?

No. It will take too long.

But we can get back to work safely if we are careful and respectful of others.

And why not learn from the rest of the world?

As of today, there have been nearly 85 thousand deaths here in the US, whereas in Japan, with a population of 125 million, there have been 675. That’s right. Six hundred and seventy five. In South Korea, next door, there have been fewer than 300 deaths (population of nearly 52 million), so they’re comparable to Japan.

China, with a population of 1.4 billion, has had less than 4700 deaths, and their economy is already up and running.

Surely there’s no harm in asking what they’ve done right and learning from it, is there?

Eating a little humble pie is in order.

One spoonful at a time.

Savoring it. Mmmm, yes.

Good for longevity too.

And we’ll be making America Great Again.

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