We have a pandemic of COVID-19. This is what I know and what I have found out about this “enemy” of us. Unfortunately, what I feared most happened. People set up models to estimate or to predict what might happen. Here is a scenario or model of least damage which I wish would happen.
Why is it dangerous? The most feared characteristic of COVID-19 is that it is contagious during the incubation period. The wisdom of quarantine only those who are “sick” does not work any more. Staying away from those who cough does not work any more. Despite great works by many doctors and nurses, their effort simply could not catch up because those in incubation period keep on infect others and “sick people” keep on pop up out of nowhere. Now, let me use your beloved pets to set up a scenario:
++++++ the 101 Dalmatian dogs story ++++++
Suppose your beloved pets are 101 Dalmatians. Now some of them got a sickness which is contagious even in incubation period of 14 days. Of course, treating only the sick is not the solution. It would be nice if there were a test to tell any kind of infection. Lacking that, the obvious thing to do is to completely separate all of them for 14 days so that no one can infect any others. During the 14 days, the number of “confirmed” sick dogs will increase but at the end of the 14 days the situation will be stable. No more new cases and “the curve” would be completely flattened out.
Well, I am poor and cannot afford the 101 separate doghouses in 101 separate playgrounds. Luckily, a friend of mine invented a “long cone” looking like the cones people use for their sick dogs but longer and can actually separate the dogs from infecting each other. Instead of giving each of them their own playground, I put “long cones” on ALL of them whether they have symptoms or not, waiting for the crucial 14 days!
Now we cannot treat people (including us, ourselves) like 101 Dalmatians but the situation is similar. Among us there are 1, infected and showing symptoms, 2, infected but no symptoms (looking absolutely normal), and 3, not infected. If we only treat the “sick” (showing symptoms), we will find more and more “sicks” keep on showing up. So it is obvious that we need to completely and totally separate ALL for 14 days, waiting for all infected to show their symptoms.
For practical difficulty and people’s nature of resisting being quarantined, the above solution is not possible. So we have to propose various ways of “social separation” and create various models to see how to “flatten the curve.” (See below.)
Wait, is the above solution really not possible? No. Hear me out!!! As we know, virus does not sip out of our fingers or palms. They cannot go into our skin on our hands. They come out of sick people’s breath or cough on tiny water droplet. They travel maybe a few feet before drop on table tops, hand rails, door knob, own or other’s clothing … When another person touched such things and then touch their own faces and voila, one more sickie though he/she would not know until after the incubation period, at least that is what the good doctors told us. That is why we should stay at “social distance” and wash hands often. That is actually equivalent to self quarantine in the above Dalmatian example. Keeping social distance is probably the hardest to obtain. That is why going out poses danger for most people. However, let us use our brain and think real hard. If we wash our hands often, why and how can one still be infected? By breathing the air before all contaminated drops fall out, of course. People do not stay stationary. In a store the other day, it made me cringe to walk pass the path another person just walked through. Luckily, we have just the solution for that — wear a face mask. (See another article Face Masks on this issue.) That is like the “long cone” as described in the above Dalmatian example.
Well, very, very unfortunately, there is a “rather die than be caught wearing a face mask” mentality in the United States of America. I simply cannot understand that. OK, now, tell an American or an English man he will be sick or die if he does not wear a kilt. He probably choose to die. However, I simple cannot understand what is wrong with a face mask. I actually have heard cases regular red blooded Americans go beat up Asians wearing face masks in San Francisco and L A. How strange. I hope nothing like this is to happen around here. I just went out shopping for food the other day wearing my face mask (which I often use for wood work at home).
OK, it seems a complete self quarantine is impossible. So we would have to set various models to see what would happen if we do so and so. If the government closes certain kind of shops. limits what kind of activities how many people would be infected and how “the curve” would go — flatten or not. Come on, please wear face masks!! I saw a graph of two different cities in Itaaly. One has more strict isolation and “the curve” is flatter than the other. We also see flatter curves for Korean, Japan … countries where wearing face mask is an every day thin addition to the fact that personal separations are being taken more seriously. In China where COVID-19 effected the earliest and most, there is almost no more new infections now, a month or so after they “locked down” practically the entire country. We may laugh at them being a dictatorial country. However, when they “ordered” a lock down, people actually stay home and it actually worked.