Culture Wars/Current Controversies

Monday-Morning-Quarterbacking the Pandemic Response in New York City

My best guess is that virtually everything in this is probably correct.

By Nexus X Humectress

The following is a thought experiment imagining what the most effective response could have been, keeping in mind that the infection rate is determined by the intensity of exposure to virus particles times the duration of exposure. I think these tactics could have greatly reduced the incidence if they began doing this on February 1st.

• Whenever possible, avoid the “Three C’s” — closed spaces, crowded spaces and close-contact settings

• Real, actual quarantine for people over 65 and the immuno-compromised. No leaving the apartment for any reason whatsoever.

• Massive volunteer coordination to bring food and medication to elderly and vulnerable in quarantine, so that they never have to leave their apartments.

• No lockdown. Keep working, because we don’t want to exacerbate the situation with rampant unemployment and homelessness which would multiply the death count, and would ultimately defund the hospitals we depend on. Keep schools open, but any student who lives with an elderly or vulnerable relative is excused from having to attend. Unfortunately, our economy depends on public schools as a form of daycare that enables parents to go to work, so if we want the parents to keep their jobs, we need to keep the schools open.

• Unless you live alone, get out of your apartment and out into the streets. The virus never takes a day off, and if you are locked in an apartment 24/7 with an infected person, you are more likely to get infected than if you get out in the fresh air, and spend as little time as possible indoors. Your family and significant other are your number one risk of contamination, so stay separated, with separate air chambers, as much as possible.

• Shut down all subways, trains, ferries and airports.

• Make taxis free to ride, and keep the car windows open at all times to circulate the air. If buses have openable windows, keep those buses running with a big fan inside.

• Escape from New York. Those with the means and/or opportunity should evacuate the city in order to reduce the population density and the load on the hospitals. Since the virus is most contagious between 40-50 degrees Fahrenheit, move out of this temperature band to places like Florida, or perhaps Maine. Tell the rich not to all go to the Hamptons en masse, because it is in the same temperature band as the city. If you can go camping alone in the wilderness, do that. Yes, this option will only be available to the “privileged” but it’s too late to fix that now. Work with what you’ve got.

• Everybody mask up, keeping in mind that masks are not a panacea and do not make one safe. Medical masks block 66% of particles, while cloth masks only block 3% of particles. But it’s a mitigation strategy for slowing the spread, and any amount of attenuation adds up and makes a difference.

• Wear some goddamn goggles while you’re at it, so that the virus doesn’t get in through your eyes. Swim goggles, scuba masks, industrial goggles are all good, and eyeglasses and sunglasses are at least something, and might attenuate incoming droplets a little.

• Physical distance 13 feet or more where practical, but even more importantly, change the indoor air as frequently as possible. Open the windows and deploy fans and air ducts everywhere, even if this makes buildings cold and wastes a lot of heating fuel.

• Tell everyone to go to parks and the beach, especially if it’s sunny out. Outdoor transmission is relatively rare, and ultraviolet light kills the virus.

• Put infected people in the Javits Center where they belong, never into nursing homes.

• Tell everyone about practical steps to boost their immune systems, such as healthy diet and exercise, positive thinking, meditation and stress reduction, and vitamin D.

• Be kind to those flaunting these guidelines, because they are still doing their part for the effort by putting their own health on the front line to build towards herd immunity. One way or another, this will work itself out, and there are no foolproof options free from tradeoffs.

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