This Bug Is Beatable
Social distancing is a privilege. We forget because it feels like a hassle.
This bug is beatable. I talked to three lab directors, the Food and Drug Administration, two former FDA commissioners, three epidemiologists, two virologists, and a senior White House scientist so I could give you a consensus on what we know.
Much of the spread is highly clustered. Everyone who gets the flu is more or less evenly infectious. Here, a small number of people are highly infectious. And there are a small number of places where the virus is highly spreadable.
Compared to other viruses, we would much, much, much rather not have asymptomatic spreaders and presymptomatic spread, but fortunately, not everyone coming in contact is getting it. It’s not the measles.
Knowing who and where are the important mysteries to solve. We have figured out the “where”: cramped places, indoors, with poor circulation, and loud talking and laughing. The “who” is trickier. (No World Health Organization jokes, no Abbott and Costello jokes — surprised at my discipline?)
We know kids shed the virus. We know adults shed the virus. We know some people shed a lot more. There’s a mixed view as to who that is. The view toward kids is we know they shed but have little idea why they don’t shed to adults very often.
One person said don’t be surprised if it is kids’ height relative to adults and that their particles drop. We could, of course, be facing a virus that is much more devastating to kids than this is. We are all grateful, and a few of the people I talked with worry that with the next virus, we might not be so lucky.
One pretty hardened scientist made that comment with a quiver in their voice. In fact, I heard “I don’t know” a lot.
Another piece of good news I describe this way, although none of the scientists used this language: For this virus, God gave us the gifts to fight it. “Respiratory” means avoiding places and wearing masks and social distancing.
Social distancing is a privilege. We forget because it feels like a hassle. But the reason that the more time goes on, the more this is afflicting immigrant, Latino, and essential workers is essentially that. Some places and…