Somebody enjoyed Britain’s lockdown: Looking at all those empty roads, a handful of drivers said, “Wheee,” or whatever the British equivalent is if that’s an Americanism. I can’t remember hearing anyone British say it, but at 107 years old I don’t find myself in as many whee-like situations as I used to.
No, I can’t explain it either.
Around the country, a few drivers dedicated themselves to finding out if the high numbers on their speedometers were only there for decoration or if their cars would really go that fast. On mine, anything over 70 is decorative unless we’re going downhill, but that’s okay because they do look very nice.
The record was set by someone driving 163 miles an hour on a London motorway, which in American is a highway. That’s a meer 93 miles an hour over the speed limit. But the winner (and I can’t be entirely objective in how I award the prizes here) was someone driving 134 miles an hour in a 40 mile an hour zone.
As lockdown eases, we’re all being profoundly sensible. In Accrington (wherever that may be), a birthday party turned into a fight and three people were arrested after an enthusiastic exchange of germs. I’m not sure how many people were at the party, but that’s okay because by now I’ve forgotten how many people are allowed to meet up. I do remember that they’re supposed to be out of doors, which (in a startling break with protocol) makes sense, but the number is arbitrary, so why remember it? However many it’s supposed to be, let’s assume they had more.
The evening news showed photos of mobbed beaches here in the southwest, with people packed especially tightly on a path leading to a beach. And to celebrate the chance to enjoy nature at its best, people left their litter when they went home, knowing that it would go on celebrating without them.
And from the department of non-snarky reporting, a bakery in Liverpool was offering a free coffee or ice cream to anyone people who’d helped clean up the local parks. All they had to do was dump their bag of litter in the bin outside the shop.
Liverpool’s too far from Cornwall for a free ice cream to be worth the trip, but I did give it some thought.
We’re getting details of Britain’s proposed quarantine for international visitors and it’s a masterstroke of pointlessness. It puts travelers in quarantine for two weeks, but it’s an imaginary quarantine. They’ll be asked to self-isolate, and about a fifth of them will be spot checked. But they can go out to shop for food and medicine. They can move from one residence to another. And they can take public transportation to get to wherever the hell they’re staying. And they can breathe both in and out while they do all of the above.
Oh, and they’ll be advised to download the contact tracing app when it’s available. If it ever is available.
Predictably, no one’s happy with the plan. People who want travelers and business, not to mention the money they bring, want no quarantine. And people who do want a quarantine want the kind of quarantine that quarantines people.
A report published in the Lancet reports that–
Well, what it reports depends on what newspaper you read. According to the Guardian, the Independent, and the Irish Times, if instead of keeping 2 meters from other people we keep 1 meter away, we’ll double the risk of Covid-19 infection.
According to the Mail, however, keeping 1 meter apart “slashes” the risk of infection by 80 percent. “Researchers found there was roughly a 1.3 per cent chance of contracting the virus when two metres from an infected patient. But halving this gap raised the risk to only 2.6 per cent.”
According to the Sun, “Keeping 1 metre apart IS enough to cut risk of virus.” But only if you put your VERBS in ALL CAPS.
All three are technically accurate, they just use the numbers differently and make the report’s information sound very different.
In the meantime, almost half of all drinkers in Britain are starting to drink earlier in the day during the pandemic. We’ll use a Guardian link for that, because if we go to the Mail, we learn that “Nearly HALF of Britons” end up in all caps.
And with that we end our comparative survey of the British press.
British hospitals will run five drug trials to see if they work against Covid-19. They range from heparin (already in use as a blood thinner but will be tried in nebulized form to see if it works as an anti-inflammatory and protects cells against the virus) to Bemcentinib (used to treat blood disorders but carrying an antiviral effect).
Okay, I kind of lied about ending our survey of the British press, because it seems worth noticing that the Guardian, the Mail, and the Sun all pretty much agree on that. So to keep myself kind of honest, I’ll give you a link from the Post Courier, from Papua New Guinea.
A study from McMaster University shows that cloth masks do keep the droplets and aerosols that we breathe out from spraying into the world around us. And that may reduced the odds of spreading the virus.
For droplets and aerosols, if you want, you can substitute the words spit and micro-spit.
“The point is not that some particles can penetrate the mask, but that some particles are stopped, particularly outwardly, from the wearer,” said Catherine Clase, the paper’s first author.
First author? That’s the big name on the paper. The one who’d get ALL CAPS if she were a Sun or Mail headline.
The mask’s effectiveness, predictably enough, depends on what it’s made of. A commercial mask made with four layers of cotton muslin reduces particles by 99%. A scarf, sweatshirt, or T-shirt could reduce them by 10% to 40%.
I’ve seen a pattern for a crocheted mask that would reduce transmission by 0%, because the nature of crocheting is that it’s full of holes. It was on someone’s blog. I was too floored to leave a comment. Someone’s probably out there somewhere, wearing one.