↑ comment by Viliam ·
2020-07-15T18:05:06.755Z · LW(p) · GW(p)
I thought this was old news, so now I worry what else may still be considered controversial in some places. Here is a small infodump, at a risk of saying many obvious [LW · GW]things, just to be sure:
- There are two basic mechanisms how Covid-19 spreads. Most people get it from droplets in air. It is also possible to get it by touching an infected surface, and then touching your eyes, nose, or mouth. The droplets can remain in air for a few hours. How long the surface remains infected depends on temperature (longer in cold), but it's also hours, possibly days.
- Even seemingly healthy people can spread the virus. The incubation period (how long people seem healthy but already spread the virus) is 5 days on average, but can be even 14 days long. The virus is spread not only by coughing, but also by breathing, especially by talking and singing.
- The probability of catching the virus, and the severity of the resulting disease depend (among other things) on the initial virus load. In other words, getting the virus can be pretty bad, but getting 10× the amount of virus is still worse.
- Some people have much greater risk of dying, e.g. the elderly and the sick. On the other hand, children have high (although not perfect) resistance. When evaluating the risk for youself, please don't only look at the statistics of Covid-19 deaths; people who spent months in the hospital and have permanently scarred lung tissue and reduced breathing capacity are still counted among the living. In other words, just because you are 20 or 30, it doesn't mean it is safe for you to expose yourself to the coronavirus.
- The virus is protected by a lipid layer; soap or highly concentrated alcohol (70% or more) disrupt the layer and destroy the virus. Ultraviolet light also destroys the virus, but it takes time, and you should not apply it directly to your body.
So, the most important (and the most disputed on internet) conclusion is that even partial protection against Covid-19 can make a big difference. A face mask that reduces the amount of virus by 80% is a great thing and everyone should be using it, because (1) it reduces the chance of getting the coronavirus; (2) if you get the virus anyway, it reduces the severity of the disease; and (3) if most people would use it, it would reduce the "R" value, possibly low enough that the pandemic would just stop long before reaching everyone.
You should avoid sharing a closed space with other people. (If the ventilation circulates the air between the rooms, it makes it effectively one big room. Good ventilation only circulates the air between the office and the outside, never between different offices.) If you must enter the shared closed space, don't remain there for too long, keep your face mask on, and preferably don't talk much. On the other hand, when you are outside, and not in the "spitting range" of other people, the mask is unnecessary.
Wash your hands with soap when you get home, also clean the mask, and the phone if you used it outside. If you bought something, if possible, rub it with soap or alcohol. (Alternatively, leave it untouched at room temperature for 1 day.)
If you meet other people, meet them outside. Keep the face mask on, unless you are e.g. hiking. Don't shake hands.
Install some video conference software on your elderly relatives' computers, so that you can safely remain in contact. If they live close to you, consider shopping for them, but don't come into their home.
EDIT: Also, you should ventilate your home a lot. Otherwise, if one person happens to catch the virus, the remaining ones will get a pretty high initial virus load. (Indeed, statistically, the first person in a household to get sick typically has the least serious outcome, because they only got infected once, while everyone else gets exposed for prolonged periods of time.)Replies from: Richard_Kennaway, ofer
↑ comment by Richard_Kennaway ·
2020-07-15T20:39:27.854Z · LW(p) · GW(p)
What about protecting your eyes? People who work with pathogens know that accidentally squirting a syringeful into your eye is a very effective way of being infected. I always wear cycling goggles (actually the cheapest safety glasses from a hardware store) on my bicycle to keep out wind, grit, and insects, and since all this I wear them in shops also.Replies from: Viliam
↑ comment by Viliam ·
2020-07-15T22:09:50.627Z · LW(p) · GW(p)
Yes, face mask + glasses is better than face mask alone. But you need glasses that won't mist up, such as the cycling goggles, otherwise you are not going to see much.
↑ comment by ofer ·
2020-07-15T20:11:55.756Z · LW(p) · GW(p)
Thank you for writing this!
When the upside of informing people who didn't get the memo is so large, saying the obvious things seems very beneficial. (I already knew almost all the info in this infodump, but it will probably slightly affect the way I prioritize things.)
I thought this was old news
It's probably old news to >90% of frequent LW readers (I added a TL;DR to save people time).
It's not news to me. I wrote my original post for FB and then decided to post here too. (To be clear, I don't think it's old news to most people in general, at least not in the US or Israel).
Replies from: Pattern