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Going Viral

The Prologue

What follows is to be a blog of my thoughts, discoveries, anticipations, ruminations, translations, and practical suggestions to help prepare us for what is to come from the COVID-19 virus. The virus is a big deal. Now that the World Health Organization has deemed it to be a pandemic, we must recognize that has the potential to be a monumentally big deal. Just as there is much we don’t yet know about the virus, there is much that I don’t yet know about where I’m going with this blog. I may develop some check lists, point the readers to various sources of scientific information, ask more questions than I answer, or just stimulate your thinking. I may occasionally use humor or sarcasm to make a point, but don’t come back looking for entertainment. This is serious.

The Director's Blog, part 1

Friday, March 13, 2020

Here’s the deal. Across the world, the country, our state, and this community, many, if not most, of us will come in contact with the coronavirus.

Many of those contacted will get sick. A few of those who get sick will get really, really sick, and a few of the really sick will die from it. At this point, this is our reality, regardless of what actions are taken by individuals, agencies, or government. 

That is not to say that resistance is futile. Quite the contrary. In fact, we have two distinct choices with hugely different outcomes. But, let’s still be clear that either way, most of us will probably get sick because at present, there is no cure for it and there is no preventive vaccine for it. It will continue to spread.

Here is Plan #1 -- Follow the ostrich playbook, stick our heads in the sand, don’t be concerned about it, and figure it will just blow over by next weekend. If we choose plan #1, we can all get sick now.

Here is Plan #2 -- Get informed, get prepared, stay sanitized, and calmly follow instructions. If we choose plan #2, we can all get sick, a few at a time, over a long period of time.

If it’s arrival is inevitable anyway, what’s the significance of #1 vs #2? Simple. With #2, the medical establishment (hospitals, clinics, EMT’s, nursing homes, funeral homes, etc.) will be stressed, but may be able to keep up. With #1, the medical establishment will be hopelessly overwhelmed. What will you do when you get sick and the doctors and nurses are also too sick to care for you, there are no hospital rooms or beds available for you, the hospitals and clinics have run out of meds and supplies, there are no healthy ambulance drivers left, and no one answers the 911 line because they are all out sick? Outside help won’t be coming from Hartford, Worcester, or Boston, because they’ll be going thru the same thing.

If we all pull together, look out for each other, cooperate fully, and get it right, we can have plan #2. If we do little or nothing, or screw it up, Plan #1 is the default.

More to come!

Part 2

Saturday, March 14, 2020

I don’t want to be a prophet of doom or a buzz kill. Just want to get your attention. Don’t panic. This is not going to be like the plague. It’s not going to wipe out civilization. On the other hand, its going to be messy enough that this will leave a permanent spot on your mental calendar, as in b.v. (before virus) and a.v. (after virus).

Idea for the day:

For the time being keep track of (yes, actually write it down) when and where you come in contact with other people (especially within 6 feet). Include names and anything you can remember about them. No, you don’t have to write down the names of everyone on the bus. Making a notation that you sat next to a well dressed young man with a short beard and briefcase and was looking tired, could be helpful if you get sick and health authorities want to trace how you got it or who else you may have given it to.

Be careful about touching things that other people have touched in the public sphere. As you may have heard, the virus can survive for a while on objects outside the body. By itself, the act of touching contaminated surfaces is not dangerous. The problem is when you later use that now contaminated hand to transport the viruses to your mouth, nose or eyes.

Common culprits are door knobs and handles, light switches, toilet seats and handles, faucet handles, elevator buttons, photocopier buttons, touch screens, shared keyboards and mice, shared tools, railings on stairs and elevators, grocery baskets and carts, vending machines …. the list is endless. Go back to the elevator for a moment. You may be relieved to have it all to yourself this time. Think though, about how many people may have sneezed all over the panel or pushed the buttons after coughing into their hands, in just the last hour.

If you don’t keep your hands clean, you not only put yourself at risk, you also put everyone else around you at risk. Be aware when you have touched something and as soon as possible resolve the issue by washing or sanitizing.

Going Viral, part 3

Sunday, March 15, 2020

Speaking of touching things …. Your yuckiest personal item is not the tooth brush or wash cloth. It’s not the worn out sweatshirt or the steering wheel of the car. It’s not the pan sitting on the stove for four days. It’s with you all the time. It’s your cell phone, bro. You handle it constantly without thinking about it’s lack cleanliness. You use it when you eat (ever notice a family at a restaurant?) You use it when you are bored. You use it when you work in the yard. You use it when you are all sweaty from working out (eww). You use it when driving (shame). You use it at the movies (I was sitting six rows behind. I saw you). You probably even use it while sitting on the …. OMG, after talking into that petri dish, did you wash your hands before touching yourself? (EWW, EWW, EWW!!!).

Hmmm. Okay then. Calmly disinfect your phone then go take a shower.

When I was a kid, there was a game we played called British Bulldog. One person (the Bulldog) stood at the half court line of the gym. Everyone else stood along the wall at one end of the gym. When the leader yelled “British Bulldog”, everyone ran to the opposite end of the gym. The Bulldog would try to capture a runner. If successful, that runner also became a Bulldog and would join him at the half court line. The sequence was repeated until there were no runners left. Last person to be captured was declared the winner. In a small gym, even starting with a hundred runners and just one dog, the game didn’t last long. It was lots of fun though and we all looked forward to playing it.

Had we played the same game with the same number of people on a football field, the game could have lasted for hours. If played on the big field at Forest Park, it could take a couple days.

What’s this game got to do with the COVID-19? Glad you asked. The virus is like the Bulldog. When it infects someone, it converts them to become its agent, i.e. another Bulldog. The closer the runners are to each other, the more quickly they get picked off. Playing the game on a big field shows the impact of social distancing. Yes, eventually the end result may still be that all the runners (healthy people) go to the dogs (get sick), but it extends the playing time so that the hospitals and other medical facilities are not overwhelmed and so that manufacturers of PPE’s, respiratory equipment, hand sanitizers, and toilet paper, can ramp up and keep up. Maybe, just maybe, it can buy enough time for the vaccine to be developed, produced, distributed, and utilized, potentially preventing millions from getting sick at all.

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