CoVid Crisis - Back to Work Part II
Jury Rigging / Do It Yourself Methods to Get Back to Work
NY Pause Continues Through May 15th Pending an Update
First a couple of announcements were made the past couple of weeks which hint at when we will begin returning to the new normal. With hospitalizations declining / stabilizing and intubations and new positives declining, Governor Cuomo extended NY Pause to May 15th, which keeps open essential businesses, but closes the non-essential businesses until such time as there's enough slack in the healthcare system / hospitals to accommodate any sort of resurgence in Corona Virus patients that may occur as a result of the re-opening.
Governor Cuomo told the Donald NYC and NYS wouldn't need the USNS Comfort any longer, as the emergency crisis has subsided. As noted in an earlier report, the build out at the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal was put on hold, pending a more definitive direction in the CoVid hospitalization numbers. The photo above shows a retailer temperature screening customers before they enter the store [photo credit Dantanyan].
Large Public NYC Events Cancelled thru May
Biggest Events in June Aren't Likely to Occur & NYC Public Pools will Likely Remain Closed Through the Summer
As mentioned previously, Mayor de Blasio seemed to think that the NYC public school system will remain closed through the end of this school year. The Mayor also said that large public gatherings won't resume until at least June 1st, and even after, that the three largest public events in NYC in June [the Israel Parade, the Puerto Rican Parade and the Gay Pride Parade in both Manhattan and Queens] aren't likely to take place this year - but no final decision has yet been made. Other large public events including street fairs and other parades will not take place through May and there will be an update before then about what happens beginning in June.
The Mayor also said that NYC public pools will likely not open this summer because of the challenges of keeping people socially distanced / safe from the spread of the Corona Virus. Also, the Plastic Bag ban enforcement was pushed back to May 15th some time ago. As of this report, that enforcement date still stands, but like so much related to the CoVid 19 crisis, the date could be extended further. And the special election for Queens Borough President was cancelled and will be held in tandem with the NYS primary and general election. Lastly, the Macy's 4th of July Fireworks are still planned, but like everything this Spring, is still subject to change.
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CoVid Crisis - Back to Work Part II
Jury Rigging / Do It Yourself Methods to Get Back to Work
Proms, Moms, Grads & Dads Days Likely to be Personal - Not Public - Events
Unfortunately for this years prom class of juniors and seniors in high school, and elementary, high school and college graduates around the nation - the celebrations are likely to be online or very, very small. It doesn't have to be any less meaningful, and maybe made even more so, because of this unique moment in time. The same is true for Moms and Dads, whose special days arrive in May and June respectively. Mothers Days were oftentimes a time to venture out to eat, but this year is more likely a time to order in, while Dad's Day was a unique men's shops opportunity, which could still happen - albeit under the pall of a strained economy and finances.
And the 50th Earth Day passed us by without much fanfare owing to the distraction of the Corona Virus.
The rest of this report focuses on what we can do to begin the journey back to the new normal, recognizing that the Corona Virus is likely with us for some time to come.
Origination of the Virus Spread - Sick People & Coughing
People can become infected with the Corona Virus without knowing for days. The incubation period is estimated to be between one and fourteen days, before someone realizes they may be sick. During this time they could potentially infect other people or leave droplets, the agent carrying the virus, on surfaces or in the air where the virus can remain active for up to a day [air] or three days [smooth hard surfaces] assuming the right temperature [cooler].
So there are three elements to the origination and spread. One element is the fountain of infection, which is the dry cough. Hold your arm to your face to stop spreading droplets, and if you feel ill, stay home.
Testing is Ideal, but Temperature Taking Might be a Good Jury Rig
This is the second element is to identify and isolate those who are ill as quickly as possible. The government wants to be able to test everyone so they can identify and isolate infected people. But the catch is that tests won't be available in the bulk required, to reactivate the economy in some sort of timely manner.
So what to do? Jury rig. Some retail outlets are taking people's temperatures before letting customers in the stores. One of the signs of illness, besides the dry cough, which is one of the primary means of transmission, is a fever. If you identify people with fevers and separate them from the herd, you're going to reduce the infection rate by separating the ill folks from the rest of the herd as early as possible.
Various states and other government entities have developed an online quiz to use to self screen any symptoms you may have to help you determine whether it's possibly CoVid. Here's the link to the NYS online screening page which you can copy and paste into your browser bar - https://coronavirus.health.ny.gov/covid-19-testing.
To Mitigate the Spread, We Need to Raise the Bar on Hygiene & Cleaning Regimens
And the third element is the means of transmission, meaning through the air and through droplets on surfaces, which are touched by other people. The key here is the use of masks when in close quarters - but this has a downside as people fiddle with their masks and thus are touching their faces more than they would without them.
When I was younger, our family maintained a far more aggressive cleaning program than I have practiced ever since. Before every meal we had to wash our hands, and after every meal we washed the counter tops, the table and the dishes. Every week we scrubbed the floors, cleaned all of the sinks, toilets and tubs / showers. Every week we vacuumed, swept the areas around the entrance to our home, shook the rugs where people cleaned their feet prior to entering our home. And I recall one time after quickly washing my hands and wiping some of the dirt on the towel - my Father correcting me - telling me to WASH my hands and then use the towel to dry them, not use the towel to clean them. And I still recall some of the housewives at a town social gathering talking about washing the walls. I reckon [but don't know] that procedure might have originated in influenza times.
I think we all need to return to these higher cleaning standards, if not indefinitely, at least for a while.
Mitigate the Critical Mass of Virus Required to Become Infected
To become infected and sick, one needs to be exposed to a 'critical mass' of the virus. This will differ from person to person and is dependent on the means of transmission. Healthcare professionals, if they didn't wear protective equipment, could potentially be exposed to significant amounts of the virus while treating sick people. But for the rest of us, the exposure, while seemingly ubiquitous, is far less available in critical mass.
To avoid any sort of Corona Virus build up / exposure, one can mitigate the amount they are exposed to by maintaining an active cleaning regimen that clears away virus and bacteria from those surfaces most often touched.
Let's say you pick up some Corona Virus on a routine basis on the subway, or off a counter top at an active institution, at an ATM machine or a doorknob at your place of work or elsewhere. Let's assume with each encounter it's a critical mass which you then distribute to your cell phone, your keys, your doorknobs, your light switches, your TV clickers, your computer keyboards and mice, and so on.
Once distributed you wash your hands and then pick it back up the next time you touch the surface. And you keep touching these surfaces until you get sick. Or you could routinely wash / sanitize these surfaces thus reducing the likelihood you'll pick up a critical mass and fall ill.
As you can see in the photo above, back in the 1950's, cleanliness and dressing properly were operating at higher standards than are maintained by most Americans today. Perhaps it's time to review and rethink what habits we've tossed, and what habits we've kept, that were passed down from prior generations.
Isolate the Known Vulnerable Populations
Since this Corona Virus is relatively new, there is likely still a lot we do not know about it. But conversely, the world has gone to work to quickly ramp up the learning curve to better understand what we're up against.
What we know is that it appears primarily to be a respiratory illness - but that's not all. Recently physicians have noticed that it also wreaks havoc with the cardio / pulmonary system [your blood vessels and heart], causing blood clots in the brain [strokes]. At least one physician who identified this problem said that he has begun to provide patients with blood thinners even before such symptoms start manifesting themselves.
Other health conditions of the patients having the greatest difficulty beating the virus include hypertension, diabetes, obesity and compromised immune systems from other health conditions like cancer and AIDS, as well as from age.
One report I saw noted that there's been a significant reduction in heart attack [-25%] and stroke [-20%] patients. The theory is that they don't want to go to the hospital for fear of catching CoVid 19. The healthcare professional interviewed opined that they thought it riskier to stay home with one of these two conditions than the risk of catching CoVid in a hospital.
Death Rates, Serology & Testing
Scientists and governments are trying to figure out the death rate of CoVid 19. If you look at the reported numbers by Google / Wikipedia for the Corona Virus, it shows 904,000 people infected and 51,100 deaths, leading one to compute a 5.6% death rate, which is very, very high.
Government officials and scientists believe that the death rate may be overstated, as those with light symptoms may not have been tested and hence not included in the tested positive count, which would significantly reduce that death rate. Governor Cuomo had a study done whereby the group his folks tested showed a death rate 10 times lower than what is shown above.
A Democracy Now report noted that these studies have not undergone a rigorous peer review and that there may be issues with the serology of the tests which yield false positives - thus possibly inflating the number of people the tests indicate already had the virus. So it seems it's still too early to really know what the death rate is.
Ongoing Dialogue Regarding Vulnerable Populations
The early demographic information indicates that ethnic minorities and men are most vulnerable to catching and dying from the disease than their numbers in the general population would suggest. The reasons for this remain unclear [like most things about this new threat].
There are a number of possible explanations for this. One seems to be that minorities are far more clustered in the urban areas, and hence represent a higher percentage of urban populations and far lower percentages of whole state populations - and the cities have been hardest hit because that's where people are in closer contact / exposure.
Another explanation is that minorities and men [?] represent larger numbers of essential workers who are out on the line every day. And another explanation is that there is more limited healthcare access and education to members of the ethnic communities.
Mayor de Blasio and Governor Cuomo took steps to set up more testing facilities in minority communities.
Looking to the Summer - Will Warmer Temperatures Halt the Spread?
This is a difficult question to answer because the Corona Virus is new. But if we look around the world, there are other warm temperature nations - like India and Brazil - which are on an upward trajectory and both of these nations have significantly warmer temperatures than the U.S.
So the answer to this one is that we really don't yet know, which should be disturbing.
So that's the Corona Virus update, with a few suggestions on how we can get back to work. Continue educating people to stay home if ill and to cover their mouths while coughing. Take temperatures of folks entering more closed spaces. Continue with the hands washing, but step up the messaging on cleaning homes and offices. Definitely step up the cleaning of the subway which now - on the improved plan - is still only cleaned every three days and quite honestly, given the ridership is down 90% plus - it doesn't look like it. Isolate vulnerable populations.
And keep researching the death rates, the demographics and what impact seasonality may or may not have. Lastly there are a number of drugs being worked on, with Remsedivir looking the most promising, while the one Trump is touting - Hydroxychloroquine - looking dangerous due to heart complications.
Have a good weekend. We'll have more soon.