It Ain't Over Til It's Over
Although we’re not even close to being out of the woods yet vis à vis COVID-19, some of us are acting like we already are - not keeping a safe distance, and not wearing a face mask. These risky behaviors emphasize the need to remember that we’re all interdependent.
Much ado has been made of the perceived ‘need’ to “Make America smart again.” What we do need to do is to start thinking again. So, let’s think about some of the myths that are being used to justify the careless behavior that has emerged since Ohio and the rest of the world started reopening.
“I’m young and COVID-19 won’t affect me.” While not everyone who’s infected by COVID-19 has symptoms or gets sick, if you’re infected you can still pass it to others – including your partner, children, parents, and grandparents - if you don’t wear a face mask and don’t maintain physical distancing.
“Wearing a mask doesn’t help because the virus is so small.” Virus particles are small, but a mask or face covering filters out droplets of your breath that may carry the virus if you are infected. Because not everyone who’s infected gets sick, you could be infected and passing the virus along without knowing it. Wearing a mask protects others. Physical distancing protects you and others.
“Making me wear a mask violates my rights.” Do you really want to exercise your right to get sick, die – or infect or kill someone else? Everything we do affects others. The opposite of careless is caring.
“I have a right to go out to eat, and to open my business.” Nobody’s saying you can’t eat out or reopen your business. But you do not have the right to hurt other people. And that’s what you might be doing if you don’t stay six feet away and don’t wear a mask.
Why six feet away? A recent study by van Doremalen et al, “Aerosol and surface stability of SARS‐CoV‐2 as compared with SARS‐CoV‐1 in the New England Journal of Medicine recognizes that forceful breathing by asymptomatic people while singing can spread COVID-19. (Cite: 3 New England Journal of Medicine 82(16), 1564–1567.) A growing body of sholarship supports that COVID-19 can spread in the droplets, or aerosols, of our breath as we exhale. When you breathe and talk, those droplets can travel as far as four to five feet away from you. A properly worn mask can prevent spreading droplets and the virus.
"The virus is fake news." COVID-19 is real. Physicans proposed the germ theory of disease as early as 1025 A.D., and the scientific community has accepted it since the groundbreaking work of Louis Pasteur (for whom the process of Pasteurization is named) and Robert Koch during the 19th century. Following the invention of the electron microscope in 1931, scientists were able to see viruses such as the polio virus, the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), and more recently, coronaviruses, including the one that causes COVID-19 disease.
Established scientific techniques and diagnostic tests including the Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) – a method of rapidly copying genetic material so it can be studied and whose usefulness was recognized when its inventor shared the 1993 Nobel Prize in Chemistry – have identified a unique strain of coronaviruses (which are named for the spikes jutting out from their viral capsid, or coat) which has been designated as SARS-CoV-2. “SARS” stands for Sudden Acute Respiratory Syndrome. The SARS-CoV-2 virus can infect people and can cause COVID-19 disease in people.
Symptoms of COVID-19 disease can include headaches, difficulty breathing, weakness, loss of taste, loss of smell, aches and pain, and others. Medical evidence documents that in extreme cases – particularly, but not limited to - people over 55 years of age, who have diabetes, high blood pressure, asthma, COPD, or cancer – the immune response to COVID-19 can overwhelm the body, resulting in death.
COVID-19 remains a threat until enough people are vaccinated against it, enough of us develop immunity as COVID-19 makes its way through our world, and we have enough medication and other ways to treat it.
COVID-19 ain’t our first rodeo. During the Second World War, we Americans and our Allies worldwide sacrificed and worked together to defeat our enemies. Their sacrifices for the good of others earned them the respect that goes with being called “The Greatest Generation.”
Like those who went before us, we have a chance to be great, by remembering that what we do affects others, by wearing a mask, maintaining physical distancing, and helping those who are in need. Thank you.
A former Navy officer, Bob Soltys earned a degree in biology from Indiana University.