Wednesday, August 19, 2020

corona spikes

We're seeing spikes of SARS-CoV-2 infections in both the US and South Korea. South Korea has elected to shut down churches again, and no one can attend baseball games, but online worship is still allowed. In the US, universities like Notre Dame have suddenly switched back to online classes. Infection spikes are causing massive, society-level flinching.

Is there some middle ground between "Open everything back up as if nothing were going on!" and "Keep everything closed, or you'll kill Grandma!"? We know that masks do help with the droplet problem, but they aren't good at actually protecting you from the virus. From the virus's perspective, the human eye is the size of a country, and flaws in the mask on your face are the size of giant cave-mouths.

We have yet to figure out a perfect balance, but as I've said before, it's mostly business as usual here in South Korea: buses and subways are crowded, and no infection spikes have been associated with public transportation, probably because most of the workforce is under 60. Meanwhile, infection spikes caused by church attendance make sense because so many determined churchgoers are elderly folks who insist on doing things the way they've always been done. This is creating a long line of potential recipients of the Darwin Award—people too dumb and too stubborn to change their ways for the sake of safety. It's not as though all worship has been cut off: there are online surrogates to cope with the freedom-of-worship-and-assembly issue. If people refuse to choose the online option and insist upon seeing each other face-to-face, well, then it's no wonder that there are infection spikes.

We're obviously not at a stage where we can allow mass gatherings of the elderly. Mass gatherings of younger folks, though—that seems to be fine. The way forward will involve being mindful of how highly infectious this virus is, while also being mindful of the relatively low death rate and the relatively high recovery rate.

Has there been any news on whether the virus's genome has been fully mapped out yet?


John Mac said...

The latest thing here in the PI is requiring both a mask and a face shield when shopping and riding public transport. I guess arguably that addresses the porous nature of masks and provides some eye protection. It's a pain in the ass though.

And oh yeah, it is technically illegal for anyone over 60 or under 21 to go outside. Luckily that hasn't been enforced very stringently.

I'm in the camp that old folks are going to die of something, so let's get on with our lives and let nature run its course. That approach seemed to work out alright in Sweden.

Kevin Kim said...

That'd be a good idea everywhere.