In case you missed it in Friday’s main newsletter, can I ask you to please take our latest reader survey. I’ll repeat it here so you don’t need to go back to Friday’s newsletter. Of course, if you’ve already responded, please don’t do so a second time!
In early April, and again in early May, I asked when you thought the current virus related problems will fade away, social distancing rules cease, with life (and travel) returning back to normal. I’d be curious to see if there’s been any change in your opinion (well, for sure, the April optimists who were hoping for a return to normal by now are probably revising their expectations).
Of course, you probably don’t exactly know when things will return to normal (I don’t think anyone truly does) but it would be helpful to get a sense of what people are guessing at and expecting and how that may have changed over the last few months.
As always, please click the link that best describes your current thinking. This will create an email to be sent to me with your answer coded into the subject line.
I’ll tabulate the answers and share them in next Friday’s regular newsletter. Thank you.
No major shifts in rankings today, no new players. The Vatican City continues to drop down the rankings, and Peru continues to rise, both in terms of cases and deaths too.
Top Case Rates Minor Countries
|Rank||One Week Ago||Today|
|2||French Guiana||French Guiana|
|4||San Marino||San Marino|
Top Case Rates Major Countries
|Rank||One Week Ago||Today|
|6||Saudi Arabia||Saudi Arabia|
Top Death Rate Major Countries
|Rank||One Week Ago||Today|
I Am Not a Doctor, But….
Too many people are confusing the fact that the virus is very survivable for youngsters as implying that there is therefore no need to bother protecting them from getting the disease. The big concern is that an infected youngster can infect older and therefore more at-risk people around them, a concern that has been shown to be much more worrying than first thought. This article reports that the viral load can be 10 – 100 times greater in someone under five than in an adult.
This has to trouble people with children scheduled to return to school at the end of summer. And also trouble the teachers, too.
Here’s an interesting article, perhaps, but it isn’t exactly “news you can use”. Our genes might be part of the reason as to how some people get severe infections, while others get only very mild cases. Sadly, there’s not much we can do about our genes, but it would be good to know if we should be extremely careful or if we have nothing to fear.
On the other hand, here’s an article that might have an alternate or additional explanation about whether we’ll get a severe or mild infection. It explains that a face mask reduces the number of virus particles we inhale, and says that a low number of particles often translates to a mild infection. The article describes this as a mask acting a bit like a vaccine.
If you open the link to the article, you’ll see the article has a link to the more technical/scholarly research on this.
One of the tragedies of the virus death count is that a large number of these deaths would have been prevented if we’d focused on the major risk factors right from the start. Instead we were given wrong information for the first several months, basically telling us that all we needed to do was wash our hands a lot. Doctors love to encourage hand-washing, but in this case, it increasingly seems that, whether we wash our hands a lot or never, getting infected by touching something with virus particles on it, then sticking our hands in our mouth and sucking on them, has never been a very common way of becoming infected.
The most prominent and prevalent path seems to be by breathing the virus particles in, and in particular, by breathing in small sized particles that hang about, suspended in the air because they are so small and light that gravity has little effect and they are kept in the air by other molecules knocking them about. Even the 6′ rule is only partially effective against aerosolized (ie small) virus particles – the 6′ rule assumed the virus particles were in larger droplet form, so after being exhaled by breathing or coughing/sneezing, they would shoot out a distance then quickly fall to the ground. Masks are really valuable and the best protection against aerosolized virus particles, although of course, distancing is also very helpful too..
The other important factor about aerosolized particles is the type of airflows around the particles. Worst case scenario – you’re in an office environment. Someone in another office is infected, and the a/c system sucks up the air in that office and, together with all the other air in the office space, then recirculates it all around all the offices again, meaning you could be breathing in air contaminated by virus particles from someone in another office on the other side of the building.
An air flow needs to either exhaust the air out of the building, replacing it with fresh air in from outside, or direct the air through suitable filtering to get the virus particles out before returning the air back to the office space. This is very important, and most existing a/c systems use very little fresh air, because it costs too much money to bring in air that is either too hot or too cold (most of the year) and either cool it down or heat it up. Most a/c systems also have primitive very basic filters that don’t catch any tiny particles like viruses.
Take this article, print it out if necessary, and share it with the people responsible for such things where you work (and possibly where you live too, if you have a central air system).
Timings And Numbers
The excellent rt.live site showed 18 states with dropping new case rates on Friday (down from 20 on Thursday), 19 on Saturday, and only 16 on Sunday. From best to worst, these states are VT, SC, AZ, WI, TX, OH, LA, NY, ME, DE, GA, NC, WV, NM, CA and UT, but with five of the 16 being barely below the 1.0 line which marks steady new case numbers, and all 16 still being close to 1.0, this is nothing to celebrate.
To be even-handed, 10 of the remaining states are also barely above the 1.0 line.
The moving seven day new case average for the US is starting to drop from its latest peak (it peaked at an average of just over 69,000 new cases every day on Saturday 25 July) and now is at 63,000. This compares with the previous peak, way back on 10 April, of 32,500. Let’s hope numbers continue to drop.
Daily death numbers continue to climb again, but that is unsurprising, because there is always a several week delay between movements in the daily new cases and the daily deaths.
Closings and Openings
This article opens with a great concept – is it safe to eat at restaurants? That’s a question we’d all love to have answered with a simple yes or no.
For sure, we all sense the answer is “it depends” rather than a hard yes or no, but even so, the article is laden with many platitudes and very few specifics, such that by the end of it, the promise in the article headline about “what health experts want you to know about going to restaurants” remains unclear and unanswered.
In my opinion, the two key modifiers that impact on restaurant safety are whether people are well separated and speaking quietly (the louder you talk/shout, the more the virus you expel) and the way the air flow in the restaurant is configured (which sadly is something you don’t really know about and can’t reliably ascertain). Even getting a table by an open window is no guarantee of air-flow-safety, because perhaps the air flow is from inside the restaurant and out your window, meaning you’re having all the “dirty” inside air flowing past you on its way out the window.
For now, you’ll not see me in a restaurant, even if someone else is offering to buy the meal!
Logic? What Logic?
There’s no gentle way to say this. People have to be a special kind of stupid to go cruising at present. Here’s an example of why cruising is just too risky currently.
The number of problems that the virus seems to cause gets longer and longer. It is beyond extraordinary how widespread and varied they are. The latest is a possibility of not “just” losing your sense of smell and taste, long term, but possibly also losing your hearing too! Ugh.
Please stay happy and healthy; all going well, I’ll be back again soon.