09 June 2020


I can't cite chapter and verse scientifically. But (for a change) let me try to keep this brief.
1. Unlike (paradigmatically) New Zealand, and slighly less so other countries including some in Europe, the US has simply FAILED to do what is necessary to prevent the virus from roaring back when "social distancing" etc. is loosened. We can't get the time back and it's very clear we are NOT going to do the massive test, contact trace, isolate regimen that was the only option to actually suppress the virus.
2. The lockdown regime, stay home stay safe, is not sustainable. People just won't do it, so they have to be given an alternative. It's very much like "just say no" in past campaigns against teen pregnancy or drug use. Abstinence alone is not a viable option.
3. We may, just may, have gotten lucky. There may be a bit of a summer reprieve underway, at least in places where there was a lockdown in place long enough to bring the numbers way down. There are parts of the US where this is NOT happening, and short term peaks are still in the offing.
4. So what to do? If you live in an area (Oregon, even New York now, Washington, California), where the virus is somewhat controlled, given what we now know about how the virus spreads, this seems to be the best advice:
Always wear a mask when you go out in public places where you will be within 10 feet of other people.
Carry and use hand sanitizer and wash hands frequently and thoroughly, especially when outside the house.
Avoid public places where you aren't six feet apart, unless absolutely necessary, and when it is, wear a mask and don't linger in such places. Restaurants MAY be reasonably safe, if they are spread out enough and you are in a group that's only "household."
Avoid activities that involve yelling, singing, strenuous physical activity, etc. with others. This is tough, but it's really necessary. (Playing music with others is a big problem. Possibly outdoors or with maximal separation. But choral groups are screwed. There's just no way to do that safely now. )
Obviously, avoid big crowds. Malls, movie theaters, concerts... these things are best avoided for now. Sad, but I see no way around this.
A good thing. It is reasonable in harm reduction mode (that's what this is) to make pacts with a FEW friends and relatives to form extended "double" groups, but not too many. What this means is you agree to certain standards you will all follow with regard to social distancing, masks, etc., but then you will admit each other into your virtual household so you can socialize with them, with reasonable hygienic precautions, as if they were part of your own household. We all need some social contact. This is fraught. It's like high school. Are you in my "in" group, or not? But it's really the only safe way to have intimate social contact with people outside your household.
Another good thing. Apart from strenuous physical activity, outdoor recreation, maintaining physical distancing, is pretty safe. Go for walks, hikes, even swims, boating, etc. Just dont' party too close. Backyard gatherings (masks and hand sanitizer preferred) are safe if physical distance is maintained. Meet friends for dog walks, etc.
Minimize physical contact (except with actual family members). Don't hug. Don't shake hands.
This sucks. Some day there will be an effective treatment or vaccine and we can set all this aside. But as I see it, something like this modified harm reduction protocol is NECESSARY. If we want to avoid another 100,000 deaths (or more), especially in Fall, when there is nothing really in place other than peoples' behavior to prevent a recurrence of rapid spreading, we have no choice but to pretty radically change our lifestyle semi-permanently.
Thoughts? (Other than that, as usual, I didn't manage to keep it brief).

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