Can you catch Covid outdoors? 

If you work at it, yes, you can catch Covid out of door, but fresh air dilutes the virus, moves it off in directions that aren’t toward you, and it dries up the little liquid space suits it travels in. And sunlight kills it. 

Zap. Take that, virus.

So far, somewhere between one case and very few cases of outdoor transmission have been documented. But not documented isn’t the same as impossible, so let’s look at the risks.

At the riskier end of outdoor contact are extended face-to-face conversations where people get too close to each other. We still need to keep our distance, especially during the colder weather, because the virus likes the cold. 

Also risky are what in Britain are called market stalls–outdoor markets that are often under three-sided tents–don’t have the advantage of being fully ventilated. They’re safer than the indoors, but the air doesn’t circulate freely through them. Ditto bus shelters. 

And crowds. 

In those situations, the experts recommend masks, even outdoors.

Irrelevant photo: A wallflower. Yes, it’s a plant, not just someone who clings to the wall at a dance.

But Professor Cath Noakes said she doesn’t “want people to be terrified of passing each other in the street.” To transmit the virus that way, someone would have to cough right at you and you’d have to inhale at just the wrong moment. On the other hand, running with someone so that you’re following in their slipstream for an extended period of time might be a problem.

“The sad fact is that your greatest risk is from the people you know.”

It’s not impossible to pick the virus up from a contaminated surface, but it’s a lot less likely than breathing it in. 

 

Lockdown: the effect and the politics

On Saturday, Covid cases in parts of England were starting to level off. Or by a different set of calculations, the number of infections  is declining in the country as a whole, although it’s still going up in a few regions (including mine, thanks). Either way, the lockdown seems to be having an impact. But I’m going to have to leave you linkless on that, because every link I can find is behind a paywall. I got it from an actual piece of newspaper that I spilled tea on yesterday.

Quite a lot of tea. 

You can’t do that to your computer and expect it to survive.

*

A former Supreme Court judge, Jonathan Sumption–known to his friends and family and all the kids who were in kindergarten with him as Lord Sumption–has made a name for himself as an anti-lockdown advocate. Let the old and vulnerable isolate themselves, he argues, while the rest of the world carries on as usual. 

And so it came to be, children, that he was on a TV show telling a woman with stage four bowel cancer that he hadn’t said her life wasn’t valuable, he’d only said it was less valuable than other lives.

Not just telling her, interrupting her to tell her. Because what some people have to say is more important than what other people have to say.

Don’t feel bad for her. She held her own.

“Who are you to put a value on life?” she said. “In my view, and I think in many others, life is sacred and I don’t think we should make those judgment calls. All life is worth saving regardless of what life it is people are living.”

Lord S. has since said that his comments were taken out of context.

*

A group of Conservative Members of Parliament, though, is getting twitchy about lockdown. Some 70 of them have formed the Covid Recovery Group, which worries about “draconian restrictions” and wants to know when “our full freedoms will be restored.” They can be assumed to be after Boris Johnson’s job–but that’s an assumption. And they can’t all have it.

 

Covid testing and the schools

Somewhere back there, Boris Johnson presented us with a plan to reopen the schools safely by testing the kids every week. Or every day. Or every minute of every day. It was going to be miraculous and world beating and headline grabbing. What’s more, it was going to work, which would make a nice change. 

Or maybe it wasn’t going to work, because the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (known to its friends as MHRA) wouldn’t authorize the tests. It’ll give people a false sense of safety if they test negative, it said. 

This is a £78 million plan and part of the government’s £100 billion Operation Moonshot, which involves not putting a shot glass on the moon but mass Covid testing of various and miraculous sorts. 

The testing started in secondary schools and was scheduled to expand into primary schools (vulnerable kids and the kids of key workers are still in school), and move from there to universities and workplaces. 

The government’s already spent £1.5 billion on lateral flow tests made by Innova, which are fast and, unfortunately, not accurate. They miss a lot of people who are carrying the disease, and miss even more when nonprofessionals use them. 

In response to the MHRA not approving the plan, the government said, “So what? We don’t need regulatory approval because this is assisted testing.” (You understand that I made up that quote, right? But it’s true to the spirit of what they said.) 

Assisted testing is when someone sticks the swab down their own throat and up their own nose. Under supervision–that’s the assisted part, I believe. So it’ll be a seven-year-old supervised by a teacher with no medical background. Using a test that works its imperfect best when done by a professional.

I don’t have a problem with that. Do you?

The plan is that the close contacts of confirmed cases will be tested every day for seven days. If they’re negative, they can stay in school.

The MHRA, on the other hand, said it “continues to advise that close contacts of positive cases identified using the self test device continue to self-isolate in line with current guidelines.”

 

Tipping right over the edge

A super-Orthodox rabbi in Israel has warned people not to get vaccinated because the vaccine can turn people gay

He should be so lucky.

The logic is as follows: “Any vaccine made using an embryonic substrate, and we have evidence of this, causes opposite tendencies. Vaccines are taken from an embryonic substrate, and they did that here, too, so … it can cause opposite tendencies.” 

Are you following this? 

I’m not doing so well with it either. I did ask Lord Google about embryonic substrates and he was resolutely unhelpful, so I’ll nod vaguely, say, “Uh huh,” and sidle quietly out of the room while the good rebbe’s attention is distracted. Being ultra-Orthodox, he (and I admit I’m guessing here, and probably being influenced by stereotypes as well) probably doesn’t have a lot of time to talk with women anyway. 

In response, an Israeli GLBT etc. organization (that stands for gay, lesbian, bacon, and tomato, with whatever else you can fit between two slices of bread without disaster ensuing)–

I’ve lost the thread there, haven’t I? An Israeli GLBT etc, organization has announced that it’s gearing up for a massive influx of new members. 

Israel has managed to vaccinate a large swath of its population–2 million people in a population of 9 million have had at least the first shot. So far, no noticeable change in their sexuality has registered on the Richter Scale. 

What Israel isn’t doing is vaccinating the Palestinians who live in territories under its control. 

A public service announcement

For the record: I am not related to Senator Josh Hawley–much to his relief. 

55 thoughts on “Can you catch Covid outdoors? 

    • Whatever gets us through. Gay, lesbian, sausage, and eggs is one I hadn’t considered, but probably because I’ve been fishing in a different cultural pool. We don’t tend to do sausage and egg sandwiches. Our loss, I’m sure.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Lemme guess : Lord CON Sumption ??
    In my experience, seven-year-olds can be pretty adept at sticking things up their noses. Maybe they should be administering the tests to others ?
    Wouldn’t the opposite of “embryonic” be – um – “mature”?
    Honestly, Ellen, it never even crossed my mind that you could POSSIBLY be related to Josh Hawley. Because – well, just common sense, really,

    Liked by 1 person

    • Well, a lot of people I know have some surprising relatives, but he’s not one of mine. Not even a distant one. Guaranteed.

      I take your point about seven-year-olds, and I’ll be giggling about it all day. Many thanks for that.

      Like

  2. Ok, thank goodness you answered the Josh Hawley question before I felt compelled to ask it.
    Just following the good rabbi’s logic, I’m wondering if the opposite is true. I am registered to have my first shot of vaccine on February 3rd. My mother, God rest her Southern Baptist soul, would be praying from the back seat that the vaccine would finally turn her 74 year old lesbian daughter into a fine upstanding Christian straight woman. I’m not down with the logic, rabbbi.
    Unlikely.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Maybe that’s just Orthodox Judaism being the flip side of conservative Southern Baptistry. I’m sure there’s some deep meaning there, but it keeps slipping away from me.

      About non-cousin Josh: It’s a long story, but the name’s a bit of a cosmic joke on the world. Mine, that is. I inherited it, but we didn’t exactly come by it honestly.

      Like

  3. I like the random photo of the wall flower that has no relevance to the post.

    I love your sarcastic spin on all topics.

    I wear a mask all the time. Who know if some coughed as you just walked by and the new strain is a super spreader.

    Thanks for confirming sun kills it

    Oh the conspiracy theories.

    Freedom. We are still free but we are carefully free. He gives us freedom and look at the state of the nhs. The poor drs and nurses.

    Back to the random wall flower. It us pretty.

    😉🙃

    Liked by 1 person

  4. That last part was the cherry on the cupcake… the icing on the cake… the cream on the soda. That was just HILARIOUS. I’ve heard of the vaccine making people infertile, allowing them the luxury of growing horns from their foreheads and making them more susceptible to respiratory disease…. (you can choose which of those is the most truthful but there is a load out there to pick from and I thought I would make it a nice balance of three conflicting side effects) ..but I have not heard of it making people gay before. The fact that that Israeli GLBT group is gearing for a massive influx of newly vaccinated and converted gays is alarming. What are they really standing for? Also, you’re right about them not vaccinating Palestinians. Nobody seems shocked about it or bothered though. And nobody will do anything about it either. A few people will share posts on social media but of course Israel will get away with it. The same way, actually, that the western world seems to be getting away with having a monopoly on vaccines, whereas the poorer countries seem to only be vaccinated around 25 people (I heard that on the news today), and I also read something there about this causing some kind of rise in prices for the vaccine?

    Liked by 1 person

        • Are you sure that’s criticism-proof, though? Are you sure that anything is? They mess on the rug/the neighbor’s lawn. They eat shoes. They get so happy that they put their big, muddy paws on someone’s clean clothes. (Nothing loves you like a muddy dog.) We could be accused of looking after them cynically and for our own purposes, and of having so many of them that the neighborhood went to hell.

          Oh, and they bark.

          Yeah, I’m a lot of fun at a pary too.

          Liked by 1 person

            • Oh, dear. That’s upsetting, taking your context out of context. Or possibly inserting the wrong context. The thing is, I’ve got a whole damn drawer full of contexts and you know what they’re like. You shove them in there thinking you’ll recognize which is which–it’s so obvious–and by the time you come back the cords have all wrapped around each other and they look exactly the same. So it’s entirely possible that I pulled out the wrong one. I’ll turn on some stale mystery rerun this evening and have an untangling session.

              Like

  5. The ‘COVID Recovery Group’ seems largely to consist of the same people who formed the European Research Group’. I don’t recall them doing a great deal of ‘research’ in that group so the sceptic in me feels they might not be all about ‘recovery’ now. But I expect I’m being overly cynical. I do lament any group that can make me look at Boris and still believe that things could be worse…

    Liked by 1 person

    • And, possibly, stop telling people that if they were in a burning building they’re not the people he’d rescue? As if he was Mr. Muscles and could carry anyone out. When I read that as his standard of who matters most, I thought, I’d rescue the person who was either nearest the door or who I thought I could lift. I wouldn’t stand around thinking things through.

      Liked by 1 person

      • In reality, I suspect he would do just as you or I would in a burning building, unless he goes into every room and works out in advance who he would rescue, but he’d still have to be close enough to them when the fire started. The thing about being really really clever (he’s been called the cleverest man in Britain), is that you think about these things, but they have little bearing on real life. It’s a bit like trying to work out how many angels can dance on the head of a pin; it’s an interesting intellectual/theological excercise, but has very little influence on what you’d do in a given situation.

        Liked by 1 person

            • Occasionally, I think, something from the media manages to break through with a bit of reality to shatter our stereotypes. In the US in the 60s, a book called The Other America managed to do that for many thousands of middle-class Americans. Right information, right tone, right time. I think a TV show about homelessness that did that here at roughly the same time–took people whose experience was very different and let them understand how people can become homeless. But for the most part, I agree–there’s nothing like first-hand experience.

              Liked by 1 person

              • You’re thinking about Cathy, Come Home. Even though I was too young to watch it, I know about it and you’re right, it did shock a lot of people into realising that even people like them could be homeless. It was over 50 years ago, though, and nothing has come close to doing the same thing, partly, I suppose, because there were only 2 TV channels and anything that aired was guaranteed an audience of many millions.

                Liked by 1 person

              • That makes sense, but I think timing’s a lot of it. Sometimes a message comes along when people are able to hear it. At a different time, they might have heard nothing but a faint background hum.

                Liked by 1 person

  6. As someone who spent four months in Israel, not vaccinating the Palestinians doesn’t surprise me a bit. Of course it is stupid since Palestinian territory is intertwined throughout Israel. Remember even if you are vaccinated you can still get covid and pass it on to other people. If the vaccine is 95% effective then the remaining 5% can still die from it and get it from the unvaccinated Palestinianas who do have contact with the whole population. Nothing surprises me about Israel today since I witnessed CNN cameraman paying Palestiniana kids to start throwing rocks at Israeli troops in Bethlehem to get the best photo op, and later watched it on CNN!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I agree with your outrage, but I’ll nitpick a bit. The vaccines do–mercifully–protect that 5% against the worst aspects of the disease. No one in the trails ended up hospitalized if they got the genuine vaccine. I’m still waiting to hear if it protects against long Covid. I haven’t seen a single word about that. But that doesn’t mean that vaccinating only the people you want to protect and letting everyone else go hang is a smart (if genocidal) strategy. It allows a pool of transmission where the virus can mutate. Until everyone is protected, no one is protected.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I would like to ask Lord Sumption under what circumstances his words would be appropriate, but most of the people using that excuse haven’t thought that far down the line. (You should be more relieved than Sen Hawley that you are not related)

    Liked by 1 person

    • It would’ve made Thanksgiving get-togethers just a touch awkward. The fact is that my family stole his last name before he was born. If he wants to sue, I’ll see him in court.

      You make a good point about what context would make his comment okay. I’m not coming up with anything. Sorry, Lord S.

      Liked by 1 person

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