Remember when we used to hear that kids don’t spread Covid? Remember when we used to hear that the earth was flat?
Yeah, I really am that old.
New research tells us that opening the schools has helped drive second waves of the virus, because yes, kids do spread the virus. Even those cute little younger ones who are unlikely to get sick themselves–they can spread the virus too. They’re high-minded little creatures, and they like to share.
It’s our own fault. We taught them sharing was good.
A study in Germany found that in the majority of cases, kids’ infections hadn’t been spotted because they’d been asymptomatic. Or to put that another way, you find a lot more cases if you test for them.
A different study, this one in Australia, showed that the majority of kids don’t transmit the disease to anyone. But that doesn’t let kids off the hook. The same thing’s true of adults: Just 10% of infected people are responsible for 80% of infections.
At a minimum, the article I stole my statistics from recommends that staff and students (including primary school students) should wear masks, school buildings should be well ventilated, and class sizes should be reduced.
Again contrary to the standard wisdom from the early days of the pandemic, a study of masks shows that they protect both the wearer and people near the wearer.
The reason they were thought not to protect the wearer is that the virus is tiny–about 0.1 microns. (Why 0.1 gets a plural is beyond me–it’s less than singular–but try it with a singular and your ear will scream explain how wrong it is. The English language doesn’t come armed for less-than-singular.)
Small the virus may be, but according to airborne disease transmission expert Linsey Marr, the virus “doesn’t come out of us naked.” It clothes itself in the beautiful respiratory droplets known as aerosols, which contain salts, proteins, and organic compounds. With all that wrapped around its shoulders, the virus ends up looking like that portrait of Henry VIII and can be up to 100,000 times larger than the virus is without clothes.
If you want a breakdown of fabrics and what percentage of aerosols they filter out, you’ll have to click the link. You can’t trust me with that level of detail. In the meantime, though, walk outside feeling confident that your mask isn’t just protecting others, it’s also protecting your own good self.
The bad news about masks is that they deteriorate over time. The elastic stretches, the loops fall out of love with your ears, and the fibers get thin. The Centers for Disease Control recommends replacing them periodically.
A study from the University of Colorado and Harvard says that frequent fast testing–even with less-than-ideally-accurate tests–could stomp the virus into the ground. People who tested positive could get personalized stay-at-home orders and, at least in theory, bars, restaurants, stores, and schools could stay open.
The important thing, according to the calculations, is to test a population often–as much as twice a week–and get the results back quickly.
The quick tests can cost as little as $1 each. One of the researchers said, “Less than .1% of the current cost of this virus would enable frequent testing for the whole of the U.S. population for a year.”
Boris Johnson is promising England (or possibly Britain–it gets hazy, or I do) a mass testing program. I’m not sure what the details are, but until proven otherwise I’ll expect the usual competence we see from his government–in other words, a shambles.
I’d love to be wrong on that, but the thing is, a testing program only works if you do something sensible with the information.
In the meantime, the plans for Christmas are to declare a five-day truce so that families–up to three households–can get together, trade presents, overeat, and let long-buried family tensions surface festively.
Christmas truce negotiations with the virus are ongoing and look as hopeful as the Brexit negotiations.
I’m still wiping down my groceries and feeling like a bit of a maniac, since there’s been no evidence that in the real world Covid is spread by touching contaminated surfaces. Now there’s–well, something vaguely related to evidence:
An outbreak in Shanghai has been traced back to a couple of cargo handlers and who were sent to clean a contaminated container from North America. The container was damp and closed while they cleaned it, and neither was wearing a mask. The virus likes sealed, damp environments.
Neither of them was taking groceries out of a shopping bag and they may well have caught it from airborne particles, so it’s not at all the same thing, but what can wiping down the groceries hurt? It gives me the illusion that I have some control over how this mess affects me.
France’s current lockdown rules demands that people who are out carry a note, an attestation, with their name and address, the time they left home, and the reason for their trip.
When the police stopped one man who was hiding behind a car and looking suspicious, he was carrying a meticulously filled-our attestation: name, address, time.
Why had he left home?
“To smash a guy’s face in.”
“We told him his reason for going out was not valid,” the local police chief said.
In either this lockdown or the last one, a man told the police he was going to see his grandmother.
What was her name?
He couldn’t remember.